Take a day each month to show your employees the appreciation they deserve.
Each quarter at my online marketing company, VerticalResponse, we have an employee appreciation day. We offer chair massages, we bring in a big, delicious catered lunch, there are games, and of course, some sort of bake off or other fun competition--my fave to date--the recent Rice Krispie smack down. Things got a little sticky.
It's Up to Them
What's great is a committee of employee volunteers organize the entire event from the food to the invitations and all the activities. The events accomplish the obvious, which is to ensure our team feels valued and appreciated for all the amazing hard work they do each day because that is super important. That's why we do it in the first place.
Tip: Pick one day each month that you have your in-house fun event and leave it up to your team. Give them a budget and tell them to come up with a few ideas "within reason." You'd be amazed at the collaboration that happens for the event that probably translates into a really great environment when they have to collaborate during working hours!
Secondary benefit? Many of our team members get really vocal and social about the events by posting pictures on Instagram of the food or tasty treats, or post status updates on Facebook with messages like, "Wahoo! Chair massages and free lunch today for employee appreciation day! Love my job!" and they tag VerticalResponse. That's some pretty powerful word of mouth advertising for anyone looking for a job at a company that offers great benefits like this. Priceless actually when it comes to recruiting in the über competitive Bay Area.
Tip: Make it a cool event, thought up and run by them. Your team will talk about it as they see fit, hopefully with a positive spin!
We've got a pretty big marketing crew at VerticalResponse, but they've often been a bit siloed in their work environments. Smaller teams within the larger team had small lunches or outings, but the group as a whole never did. There wasn't a lot of interaction between some of the team members and we needed to mix it up.
We busted the whole group out early one afternoon and headed to a killer bowling alley in San Francisco, complete with retro decor and potent cocktails. Everyone picked their "bowling alias," donned their shoes and hit the lanes. It was amazing to watch folks who rarely talk start dishing out high-fives and "knuckles," as well as encouragement and praise for a spare or a strike. Even in a high performing, highly competitive group, I was amazed by how supportive and encouraging they were with each other. People who are really good at what they do back at the office, weren't necessarily the strongest bowlers so it leveled the playing field so to speak. And man did we laugh.
Tip: Go out somewhere where you and your team can interact. Bowling seemed like a good idea where we could have fun, switch up the teams and let loose a bit. Other things that make sense? Volunteering, treasure hunts, cooking class, and wine tasting.
Will this translate back at the office? It remains to be seen, but getting out, changing up the environment, showing appreciation, and having some fun never hurts.
JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick