Yesterday I wrote a blog about nurturing relationships with co-workers, and gave an example or two of how this works. In the aftermath of that blog, I received a few kind words expressing thanks for the post, and thought I’d take the unusual step for me of adding to the same train of thought.
Here at work yesterday, it became quite muggy in the afternoon. Now while it wasn’t hot, it was uncomfortable, and having over 25 people show up for a W.H.M.I.S. workshop I was conducting didn’t really do much to improve the feeling. Perhaps that’s why a few hours later, I decided to go and grab my first popsicle of the year. Fortunately, there is a supermarket located in the building where I work, and so I grabbed my wallet and walked down.
However, as I was walking to the store I recalled how over 10 years ago when working for the City of Toronto, I had really appreciated something that our management team did from time to time on the really hot days of summer. They would wheel out a filing cart, and go around the entire office with boxes of popsicles and give everyone their choice of frozen treat. A simple gesture really that was relatively inexpensive and yet the smiles on the faces, the appreciation it garnered made it an office moral-boosting exercise.
So I picked up a box of 24 popsicles and paid my $6.00 and returned to the office. Once back, I went from office to office, cubicle to cubicle, and offered all the staff present one. Now more declined than I would have guessed for reasons of cutting back on sugar or just not in the mood, but to a person everyone expressed their thanks and said it was a kind thing to do. They wanted to know in some cases if the Social Committee had authorized it, which I clarified they had nothing to do with this gesture. Kind of sad in a way that a few had that reaction really; presuming first that it was the result of a committee instead of just an individual being nice.
So for $6.00, I created goodwill, put a smile on many faces, had a few laughs with those people who tried to hunt down the purple ones or the pink ones instead of the orange ones etc. Now this kind of activity is best done without warning only a few times over a summer when it’s least expected. And it need not be a popsicle run, it could be home baking. Imagine coming in and getting an email that reads, “Warm banana bread in the kitchen compliments of me. Help yourself!”
Last night I was chatting with my wife and a guest in our home, and she reminded me of the time that one of her co-workers was off for a week deer hunting. Now instead of talking about the ethics of the deer hunt, I’ll tell you what the staff did. They built a deer shelter in his office. They went so far as to make a replica outhouse too and completed it with a fake deer. Another time, they all came to work – all 27 of them – dressed in the same coloured polo shirt and pants that he predominantly wears. I’ve seen the picture of all the women and this one guy – all with ball caps on that he wears on the way to work, dressed in khaki’s and that purple polo. Not one of those people isn’t smiling.
Any activity that brings your staff and co-workers together in a positive way, even if for a short duration is a good thing. Today even, I am just now reminded that one of our part-time clerks is here for her last day as she recently successfully competed for a permanent position in another department of the organization. So one of her peers is coordinating a Chinese food luncheon. Fantastic and something to look forward to later today.
There’s pot luck lunches, office olympics, staff B.B.Q.’s in the parking lot, sports pool, lotteries, practical jokes in good taste and sometimes just starting board games or cards in the office lunchroom that can bring folks together.
Me, I’m waiting for the two weeks when my boss is off on vacation and I’m at work. She doesn’t know it, but she’s going to return to…well….let’s just say some re-decorating in her office. If I can, I’ll try to recruit as many co-workers as I can into helping me with the dirty work, er, I mean transformation. Oh I have a few really good ideas. You can find a lot of inspiration from the internet if you search for office pranks and decorations.
So to summarize, all the above are activities that can create some spirit, make the workplace something to look forward to going to, give you the energy to then focus back on jobs at hand, and create good working relationships with those around you. This can then turn your workplace from a place you have to go to in order to earn a paycheque, into a place you enjoy with people you like, and do work you see value in and get paid for the privilege.
And as Martha Stewart used to say, “And that’s a good thing.”