Last week, our company had an "Olympics" themed event--basically, a company picnic with teams and games. Rather than do it over the weekend, we chose to do it on a weekday and closed our offices at noon. We rented out a field, got busses so there wouldn't be drinking and driving, and had a caterer serve hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches, beer, wine, and white claw, which apparently is what everyone wants now because we ran out of it so quickly!  

We are in the service industry. As a recruiting and staffing firm, we work directly with candidates and clients who are either looking for jobs or hiring people to fill jobs. It's extremely competitive and sometimes, if a client needs something and you're not there at the moment, they call someone else. Most of the time, we benefit from that, as we are always on. 

We have grown revenues at LaSalle Network every year for 20 years. We've never done a layoff. We continue to hire and promote from within. Eighty-five percent of our managers started their careers with LaSalle and are now leaders of people. More than 65 percent of our management team is female, 60 percent of our executive team is female, and we've been a leader in the culture-as-strategy theory for over 20 years. On paper, we are doing it right. 

Outside of the office is important, too, and not just happy hours. While fun, they're after work, not on "company" time, and not everyone goes. So the decision to close down the offices, pull people away from their desks, and have social interaction was a big decision. Not everyone is competitive. That's OK. Not everyone cheered. That's OK. But everyone spoke to someone they don't usually talk to.   

I watched the most social people go up to the biggest introverts and strike up a conversation. I saw blank faces turn into smiles. I listened to people say how good the food was and watched someone else throw a full plate of food in the garbage (assuming they didn't like it as much :)). 

We have a co-worker who is a singer, and she sang the national anthem! Majority of people didn't know she could sing, and while she was nervous, it was fantastic. People appreciating people. 

We laughed during the tug of war. We laughed during the inflatable joust. We laughed during the flippers and snorkel relay. We just laughed. The weather was perfect, but I don't think it would have mattered. For that day, it wasn't about what deal we closed. It was about whether Team Green would beat Team Blue and just having fun on company time. 

I have always said that being a great place to work is about hiring the right people. It's not about the perks, the games, or even the money. If you hire people who don't like that stuff, it won't be a great place to work for them. My goal is to hire the people who believe in having fun at work and who enjoy their co-workers. Hiring people who are good at their jobs and want to take on more, but who realize you should enjoy the work and those you work with. 

It wasn't cheap. Permits for the land. Busses. T-shirts. Food and drinks. Giveaway prizes and music. Decorations. Lost production time back at the office. But at the end of the day, it was priceless. I can't wait until next year!