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Trending Now: Wacky Employee Engagement Activities

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“Coming up with new and wacky employee engagement activities”
Business Partner

In the previous post we asked if it did any good to search for employee engagement ideas on the Internet. Why search the Internet when your people are right there? Ask them. But first, make sure that it’s safe and important for them to answer truthfully. Otherwise you get the same rehashed Internet ideas through the back door.

In the last post this back door happened to be an IT Business Analyst who was likely “volunteered” for his company’s employee engagement council. And since he didn’t have the slightest idea of what employee engagement might look like, he went searching on the Internet. I didn’t think it boded well for him or his employer.

In the meantime, his twin brother was doing an almost identical search at a different company. So, they both ended up downloading my ebook, 49 Employee Engagement Ideas. Yet their attitudes were vastly different.

Take a look at how they answered my landing-page questions. The first twin obediently states his challenge:

“Thinking up Employee Engagement Ideas for the Employee Engagement Council I am on,”

…and moves on with his business. The second twin is facing a similar challenge:

“Coming up with new and wacky employee engagement activities.”

He, however, goes above and beyond expectations, leaving me this effervescent note:

“I'm a fresher straight out of college, my role is that of a business partner in my company and I'm having a difficult time coming up with innovative employee engagement activities. It was while surfing for them that I fortunately ran into your website. Thanks a ton!! :)”

Thanks a ton, two exclamation points, and a smiley. Smells like employee engagement to me. So, what’s going on in his world that’s missing from his brother’s?

First, his job title. The second twin is called Business Partner, meaning he supports the business without being directly involved in production. So, let’s say he works in HR. This is important because the engagement project is right up his alley. The same is not necessarily true for his brother, who works in IT.

Next, even though he sounds similar to his brother, the second twin actually has a solid game plan. He wants “wacky employee engagement activities.” It’s likely that he’s done his research, and either his coworkers told him they’re up for something wacky or he’s read up on high-performing cultures. Personally, I hope he’s done both, in which case I think he’s on the right track and I highly recommend his approach.

When I started writing Who the Hell Wants to Work for You?, I wanted to look into what all of the best companies to work for had in common. I ended up with something wacky in every chapter. It didn’t matter if I was talking about performance management, employee feedback, or the floor plan. The companies everyone wanted to work for did something outrageous in every domain.

This is not only true of the crazy dotcoms, like Google, Facebook, and Zappos. Traditional businesses like USAA (insurance) and Camden Trust (rental properties) are known for wacky activities of their own. (Both have been ranked at the top of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”) Plus there’s Harvard research on why you want wacky elements in your work culture.

When you hear of wacky activities, you might first think of indoor scooters and giant slides. Or employee art. Or shaving your head for charity—or for the hell of it. Depending on what your employees want, these could all be fantastic ideas. However, if you want to do something really daring and bizarre, try generosity, trust and genuine care towards your employees.

I am not just saying that to be corny. All these great companies I’ve read and written about practice these virtues. Maybe not perfectly, but far better than the average employer out there, struggling to attract and retain. And there’s plenty of evidence that they didn’t become generous after they could afford it. They started out that way. And that’s what makes it really wacky.

_____

If you like wacky ideas then you might like my book, because I sorted through piles of bat-shit crazy to hand pick real gems.

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Tim Eisenhauer
About Tim Eisenhauer
Tim is the author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Break Down the Invisible Barriers to Employee Engagement. He's also a co-founder and president of Axero, a technology company that makes intranet software for businesses. He's spilt insightful ink on the pages of Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Fast Company, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur.com, and other top publications.

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