Do you remember watching the Olympics with your family when you were a kid? My mom was fanatical: pop the popcorn, get the cozy blankets, put away all the distractions. “Do not speak or breathe while Brian Boitano is skating.” Or maybe you watch them with your family now. One of the ways we define family is by our shared experiences. This includes the cultural touchstones, traditions and memories. For many of us, the Olympics feels like family.
So, How Does That Involve InterWorks?
I spend much of my day thinking about “employee engagement” – what it means, how it’s interpreted, how to quantify it and why it’s important. Gallup has been studying workplace behavior for decades, and they have found that engaged employees are those who are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.”
Okay, I like that definition. I know what that looks like. These employees are better at their jobs. They treat our clients better, they do better work. They are innovative and creative. They bring in larger accounts. They have lower turnover rates and higher productivity. This engagement thing is important, but we are looking for that and more. We are looking for what feels like family.
Developing Family Through Fun
One of the ways to help cultivate engagement as well as a sense of family is through FUN. Around here, we find fun in team meetups or a casual meal. We find it at our annual summit and holiday party. We find it in the millions of interactions we have with one another. Most recently, we found it in the 2018 WinterWorks Office Olympics. Just like the actual Olympics, it felt like family – even for the newbies who happened to be onsite during Onboarding that week.
Day One: Office Chair Curling
We didn’t know curling was going to be a subject of such national pride when we planned this, but we did know that people are justifiably fascinated with this sport. Recreating it for the purposes of office shenanigans was going to be, tough.
We decided to go with a human representation of the curling stone: an occupied office chair. Players took turns delivering the rock (in this case, our HR Coordinator, Chelsie Wilson). To be honest, the sweeping was for style points only. We had a few take outs and at least one perfect instance of hitting the button.
Being our first event of the games, we weren’t certain how much participation we would get. Fortunately, we do tend to hire folks who are Good at Stuff™, so we were pleased when they started lining up for a chance to launch Chelsie across the floor.
Day Two: Speed Skating
Not everyone has the skill and patience for curling. Some people just need a chance to go fast and possibly fall down. We chose soda boxes for our skates – clap skates are not permitted in short track for safety reasons, as I’m sure you know. Office cubicles created the track, and the fans went wild.
Day Three: Biathlon
So … again a total fan favorite. You ski! You shoot! You do that again! This sport has a rich and storied history, none of which was represented when we slapped on some recycled whiteboard (hand-crafted by Keith Johnson) and got after it with the Nerf guns. We had a few sore muscles and bruised egos after this one. InterWorks Europe even got in on the fun with their own Nerf shooting competition.
Day Four: Hockey Shootout
This was no “Miracle on Ice,” but we did manage to talk a handful of people into using child-sized hockey sticks while on their knees in front of their co-workers. I can’t really say more than that.
Day Five: Olympic Trivia
Our Recruiting Coordinator, Kelsey Lee, came up with a pretty gnarly list of Winter Olympic Trivia. (Already calling dibs on her for any future trivia events – she’s diabolical.) The participants were speedy, and though some of the answers are still being reviewed by the International Olympic Board as we speak, we managed to get a pretty good group of winners from across the U.S.
No Risk, No Reward
Like any good thing, there’s always some level of risk associated in making employee engagement a priority. There’s a risk in making an ass of yourself in front of your coworkers. There’s a risk investing in FUN when there’s work to be done. But there’s also a good chance you’ll find a little of that Olympic magic that just feels like family. We’ve seen the benefits that sense of family can produce, and we can tell you that it’s worth every ounce of effort.