Not in every firm of course, but in most organizations, there is a general hope that employees go about their jobs on a daily basis with some optimism, some positive vibes; in short, some spirit. Many have committees whose sole purpose is to raise the spirits of everyone who works there, because happy workers are productive workers.
The irony of these committees I have always maintained, is that there always seem to be a formality about the activities. It’s kind of, “Okay what will we plan to have fun doing?” Do things really need to be planned out in order for people to generate positive spirit in a workplace? I sure hope not.
So where I work, we have events planned by our social committee that center around the holidays throughout the year – such as Valentines, Canada Day, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, St. Patrick’s day etc. It’s a sure bet there’ll also be fundraisers for the committees activities throughout the year too, like Bingo etc. All of these things are well received by the majority, but they all share one thing in common and that is that they are planned activities.
Yesterday however, there was a spontaneous event in my workplace that raised the spirit of just about everyone, even though only five employees out of 70 or so took part. That alone is strange don’t you think? What is it that a small percentage of people did that caused others to suddenly feel good, smile and laugh about? But before I tell you this, I must warn you that if you reside in a sunny climate where the temperatures have you in shorts and short sleeve shirts and blouses, you won’t be able to duplicate this activity even if you want to for quite a while.
Here’s what happened. We had a good snowfall yesterday which started around midnight and lasted right through until about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Our office is on the second floor and many of the working areas overlook the parking lot below where the majority of staff park their vehicles. About noon hour, I decided to brave the white stuff, brush the snow off most of my car, and move it up four or five feet and back several times, just to make things easier when I’d be leaving, 4 hours later.
When I returned, I joined a fellow staffer named Mary, and commented how funny it would be to go out and draw happy faces on all the windshields. I don’t know if that comment had anything to do with what happened next or not, but a short time later an email circulated in the office, and it had a picture of a snow angel you’d see when people lie down on their backs and extend their arms and legs back and forth. The message was thanking all the snow angels who were out in the parking lot.
Curious, I walked over and looked out. What I saw was a small group of staff who were brushing the snow off not only their own cars, but EVERY car in the lot! One staff person at least even went down to a store and bought a shovel and was clearing the area in front of all the cars where the plow had piled up a barrier, making it otherwise hard to exit.
I stood and watched them go from car to car, their pant legs wet, but their faces smiling all the while. Well in no time at all, my email inbox was inundated with messages where people had hit, ‘reply all’ to the original, and everyone was passing on their thanks and appreciation. Now while you might suppose it was a waste of time and money for several staff to be standing around watching the shoveling and brushing, it actually produced the opposite.
What I observed was an increased energy level, and reading those emails – all of them short, got conversations going, and laughter happening. The whole vibe in the office went from, “UGH! Make the snow stop!” to “Wow! That’s so cool! Thanks!” The office spirit soared, and it was entirely spontaneous and a gift gladly given by those to their co-workers. You can’t buy this kind of friendship that extends beyond just working alongside other people.
So what’s all this have to do with sharing job advice? Well it’s random acts of kindness like this that endear workers to their co-workers. In the end, it was an easy ride out of the parking spaces, and a slippery ride home which took much longer than usual. I imagine today that the good will created by those people will hover around at least for a while longer.
If you want to find a way to get on the good side of those you work with, it’s sometimes in doing the unexpected. Joining in when someone says, “Hey I’ve got this crazy idea! Are you interested in …..” may be just the thing instead of being practical and saying, “Nah, it’s cold out there and I’ll get wet, but thanks for asking.” See when you respond either way, you either get branded as someone who will spontaneously do fun things, or someone who is more of a stick in the mud, and passes on these things. Your choice entirely.
This was too good to pass up when I was thinking about what to blog about today. What examples do you have in YOUR place of business that raise workplace spirit?