Regardless of what your company does, the office is where serious work gets done. But does that mean the environment everyone works in has to be serious, too?
So many companies get this wrong. They think building a fun, light social atmosphere will invite horseplay and cause people to lose focus, and productivity will suffer as a result. But it’s been my experience that creating the right social environment is just as important to your company’s success as keeping productivity high. In fact, I argue you’ll never get the most out of your employees without building a workplace culture that makes them want to be at work.
Your company culture just may be the single biggest determinant of success or failure. It affects so many parts of your business, from hiring to sales to customer service. Companies that get this are already way ahead of their competition.
Take Achievers (formerly I Love Rewards), a client of mine. Every Friday at 3:00pm, their employee lounge becomes the Red Point Lounge and everyone gathers to imbibe in the company’s signature drink, the Red Point (1.5 shots of Crown Royal, 1.5 shots of Sour Puss + 3 shots of Red Bull, in case you were wondering.) It’s a fantastic way to let off some steam after a hard week. Everyone looks forward to it and catches up. They call it “First Drink Fridays”.
And there are unexpected side effects. For one, talk inevitably turns to what everyone’s been working on and what kinds of problems they’re been running into—that’s when things can get really interesting. I can’t tell you how many times these Friday afternoons have lead to impromptu brainstorming sessions. Mix up different departments, add a little liquid inspiration and you’ll be amazed at what kinds of creative solutions happy, motivated employees can come up with.
Secondly, these Red Point lounge sessions have become such a part of the company’s culture, they have printed up laminated cards detailing the drink’s ingredients for employees to use when they’re out of the office. These cards are an amazing icebreaker and unparalleled recruiting tool. People see the Achiever’s logo and know instantly that it is a progressive, fun place to work.
And have these social events turned the company into a laughing stock of half-‐drunk misfits? Far from it. In fact, they have been voted one of the top companies in Canada to work for a few years in a row and continue to attract jaw-‐dropping amounts of venture capital.
Am I suggesting you need to get your employees drunk every week to be successful? Of course not, but creating an environment where employees feel comfortable, free and appreciated is absolutely crucial. Don’t scoff at the power of team lunches or sponsoring office dodge ball teams or even organizing cliché events like bowling during office hours. Employees remember and respect the effort.
So let’s raise a glass to building a fun office environment. Next round is on me!