School was supposed to be a place of learning math, science, history, literature, physical education and language arts, but within those classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and libraries, you learned so much more.
There, you became aware of the backdrop of people’s lives and the challenges they faced. Whether it was your best buddy from the fifth grade or the girl you never talked to from K-12, somehow you learned about their stories. Some of which you could either directly relate to and those of which you had no reference.
Some of their stories were really heavy and you would either try to console your classmate or you avoided them because you had no clue as to how to bring them comfort from their sorrows.
I was fortunate enough to attend a school district that believed in something called SPIRIT WEEK.
It was a program designed to provide some much needed reprieve from not only the stressors brought on by our monthly quizzes and end of term assessments, but also if there was a major societal or national crisis. There were Spirit Week ambassadors who were given the creative license (with principal approval) to create various activities or themes for the entire student body and faculty to participate in.
Some that come to mind immediately
Silly Hat Week – Everyone would wear a hat of their choice (unless it had expletives or violent overtones)
Cheerleader Week (You could dress up like a cheerleader, write a cheer that the school would learn and shout out randomly in the hallways)
Gold Star – You could nominate a classmate, teacher or faculty on a job well done or something you felt they needed recognition for.
Why would school Spirit Week be important while in the work space? Well, looking at the recent events in quick succession, I believe the workplace needs to be flooded with some intentional things to help their workforce. Remember, it’s not just their jobs that bring on stress; it’s also their personal lives. To top it all off, you have multiple challenges happening locally, regionally, and on a state and national level.
People are tired, weary, numb, suicidal, angry, disillusioned and hurt. What can you, as the Founder, CEO, President or Manager do within your company/organization to help your staff (paid and volunteers) through this time? Here are a few thoughtful and effective ways to incorporate some “TLC” for your most valuable people.
1) Bring in a Massage Therapist – Yes, that’s right… bring them to the office and create time within the regular work schedule to go get a five to ten minute massage.
- Boosts employee morale
- Lowers stress, anxiety, and depression
- Increases focus and improves overall productivity
2) Create a Play Zone – Board/Card Games that are popular with your work talent’s ages, regular and 3D puzzles
- Fosters laughter and breaks tensions felt from internal and external sources
- Allows for employees to interact with their co-workers and supervisors creating a safe space to unwind and relax
3) Bring in a Live Band – Music lovers stand up! Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a little biased on this one. But in all honesty, music changes our moods and when you have a great band, you’ll see feet tapping ,see fingers snapping and may even hear someone humming (let’s just hope they can hum in tune)
- Helps relieve feelings of anxiety and depression
- Helps improve motivation
- Helps enhances performance which increases confidence
4) Field Trips (who says, this has to be just for school kids)
Announce two to three days ahead that you will be taking your team(s) to a place for entertaining and educational non work related purposes.
Depending on what industry/sector you’re in and how you service your customers, you would need to organize your production and customer service care well in order to not put a wrench in your workflow, so give plenty advanced notice and not near your major high production times. Let your employees feel the anticipation of what’s to come, give them fun jobs while on the trip (example; appoint someone who loves to organize the responsibility of setting up where lunch will be near where the trip is or appointing another person the task of being the field trip’s official photographer (choose a staff member who enjoys amateur photography as a hobby). Don’t expect professional photos. It’s really about allowing your team to be involved in the fun.
- Fosters team building
- Collectively expands knowledge of other things (cultural, science, arts) which forges unity
- Helps spark personal and professional creativity
Don’t get discouraged if you get some resistance after you have made known your intentions to create a fun culture, start Spirit Weeks, and care activities from some if not all. Remember those school Spirit Week Ambassadors I mentioned earlier? Be sure to appoint one or two delegates (depending on the size of your organization) to spearhead this. To keep the vision, concept, flow and execution going. The person you appoint must be totally on board and be willing to champion this for you and be dedicated to its success. This person should also be creative oriented, a great communicator and trusted by the people. This will ensure a palpable transition.
Admittedly, some of this may be a hard sale for your team/board members to buy into as unfortunately, we have been conditioned to believe that fun is only for children and that once we’re adults, it’s all about working and being responsible but again, when we see the increase in stress related illnesses and rising frustrations among people, we can all agree that it’s worth sharing just how important your resolve is to create a regular sustainable fun culture where people can not only enjoy their work place but get their spirits uplifted too, you included.