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12 Reasons to Celebrate at Work

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“Enough fresh ideas to entertain staff”
In-house Events Coordinator

I was excited to find this brave little challenge in the sea of productivity and negativity complaints. Here’s a person, I thought, who is not out to brainwash and slave-drive her fellow coworkers. But to refresh and entertain!

I was excited because she and I have the same passion. I am not looking to bore people to death with stale ideas either. I am here to make sure you have a good time. If possible, in more ways than one. But if you asked me what my biggest challenge was in writing these posts, I wouldn’t say “fresh ideas.” I’d say: the time to record all the amazing stuff I come across every day.

One reason is that it’s easier to blab about stuff than to put on actual events. But then again, she didn’t say “execution.” She said “ideas.”

Where do ideas come from? If every time I had to write a blog post I went searching for topics on the Internet, I would probably get bored myself. Luckily, I don’t have to do that. Because people like her kindly leave their comments on my landing pages. So, as of today, I have 10,000 and some ideas for blog posts.

Are they fresh enough to entertain? They must have some life in them, if they had stirred people to write them down. Most importantly, they are not just ideas. They are real-life experiences of the people for whom I am writing. When I put them in my blog, I am not guessing whether or not they are interesting to any of my readers. I know they are. Because you told me.

This makes me wonder if our In-house Events Coordinator has ever asked her people for ideas. I can’t imagine they would turn her down if she did. They could, however, give her the kinds of ideas that don’t match her own. Starting with the word “fresh.”

Who says that we must always chase after new thrills? Maybe your employees are nostalgic about something from the past. Or maybe they look forward to the same old Christmas party and the same old company picnic year after year. You never know until you ask.

A favorite tradition at one of my past jobs was the monthly lunch at a local Chinese buffet. Trust me, there was nothing fresh about that. Yet, the bonding we’ve felt over these meals was magical. Had the management wanted to score big points with the staff, they wouldn’t have had to invent anything new. They could have simply sponsored our all-you-can-eat lunches every once in a while.

Entertainment always sounds good. But are you sure it’s a priority at the moment? Maybe, before people can come out of their shells, they need to air their grievances, heal old wounds, or allay their fears.

If you knew what was on people’s minds, you could create an event that spoke to their needs. How fresh is that! Maybe you could have an “ask-a-burning-question” event to fact-check the rumors. Or a “bury-the-hatchet” event to reconcile office feud.

My favorite events are the ones that are pure joy and celebration and a complete break from the office routine. Many problems will solve themselves if you get people to relax. Unfortunately, we are not spontaneous beings, and we need a reason to celebrate. At least a Friday.

Is it hard to come up with reasons to celebrate? I can think of a dozen off the top of my head:

  1. Project completions
  2. Product releases
  3. Landing a new customer
  4. Saying good-bye to a tough customer. (Okay, maybe not. But resolving a major complaint would be a great reason to celebrate.)
  5. Fixing problems
  6. New hires
  7. Promotions
  8. Customer success
  9. Hitting goals
  10. Being in the news
  11. Milestones
  12. World events

You might want to stock up on beer and ice-cream, just so people know that the company is always looking for a reason to celebrate. This is what our friends at Hubspot do, and I hear it works great.

If your employees are scattered around the world, like Axero’s, anytime you physically get together is a party. So, find a reason to do that. We’ve gone to conferences, like Hubspot’s Inbound events in Boston. We like Inbound, because the organizers bend over backwards to unearth fresh ideas. But it would be worth going just to see each other.

As a rule, I am all for in-house events. And other kinds of events too. That said, I want to zoom out to the bigger picture. It’s become fashionable to talk about employee engagement as if it were adult day care. The more activities and surprises the better.

HR departments are rebranding themselves as “people care specialists” and are looking for fun new way to prove that they care. But the HR didn’t start the trend. Look at all the day camps, retreats, theme parks, and coloring books for grown-ups.

We really hate being adults, don’t we?

It didn’t turn out the way we thought it would. We are burnt out and stressed. And we want to go back. We want to do something easy and fun for a change. Something we can’t fail at. And if we did fail, we wouldn’t sweat it. Nobody would. What’s wrong with that?

Nothing. Except it’s not employee engagement. Employee engagement is when people feel this way about work. When they are excited and not afraid. So, if an event helps bring the “game zone” into the workplace, then it’s the right event. However, if it’s only a brief escape from boredom and fear, then maybe we can do a little better than entertain?

Maybe we have to.

_____

If you like entertainment, you might like my book, because it’s a riot.

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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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