Engagement doesn’t happen by accident. Smart companies design programs to cultivate these interactions. Here are a handful of examples from the book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” that highlight similar types of activities:
At McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds, the employees take the time to just crack open a board game and play. “Maybe it’s because we’re a game development firm, but we find on a Friday afternoon, nothing beats playing a game,” says CEO Donald W. McNeill. “We check out the competition and have a little healthy competition. We typically get a pizza and throw in a prize for the grand winner of the afternoon.” Prizes vary from a “late morning start pass” to “party money.”
2. Hit them with your best shot.
When things get hectic and she gets that “I just want to scream feeling” about something or someone, Jennifer Callies of Shazaaam! Public Relations simply opens fire. Granted it’s with a Nerf gun, but the release is very gratifying. “We have a pretty small office and everyone gets along well and has a fun-loving spirit, so it was no surprise when our creative director went out one day and brought back Nerf guns for everyone,” Callies says. “We take our frustrations out via Nerf wars.” They shoot at walls, computers, phones, the damn copy machine and “from time to time, when the urge becomes contagious, we have it all out,” she says. “It’s an ‘everyone for themselves’ kind of war, using cubicles as hideouts and chairs as shields until all of our foam darts run out. After five to 10 minutes of heated battle with Nerf guns and childish fun, we are refreshed and ready to get back to work.”
3. Beer & Tell.
According to Rob White, CEO and Co-founder, Zeus Jones, "Most Fridays, we have what we call ‘Beer and Tell,’ where one or more people share what they have been doing with everyone on staff. The beauty of being a small company is that we can still all fit in a room, and celebrate the work, and the little or big successes of colleagues. In addition to our work for clients, these successes include new staff welcomes, engagements, pregnancies, babies, new pets and even winning debates with AT&T over cell phone bills. Big successes are celebrated with champagne— we write the occasion on the cork and keep all these marked corks in a jar."
4. Employees that play (music) together, stay together.
Harmonix Music Systems, maker of the game series Rock Band, goes the extra mile to support the company's bands by providing practice space. Down in the basement of their Cambridge headquarters, there's a hidden sanctuary where employee bands can rock out. The dedicated practice space is equipped with stage lights, music equipment and Christmas lights for mood.
5. Healthy competition.
At Virginia company Snagajob, the Culture Squad organizes the annual Office Olympics, during which employees [Snaggers] are divided into competing nations—and dress the part.