Hello, corporate decision-maker! Let me tell you I am indeed very happy to see you here.
There are many reasons that may have motivated you to open this article: 1) the productivity in your company has drastically gone down, 2) the tension in your workplace is so thick you need fog glasses, or 3) your attrition rate has jolted you into taking action.
No matter what your reason, you want to turn things around, and these five experimental ways are as good as any to start with. Let’s explore a few tactics to help you boost productivity and increase employee morale.
Send your managers on a vacation
You may have come across many studies that state that people leave managers and not companies. A 2015 Gallup study states that managers account for up to 70% of variance in engagement, or you can say they are simply not working. If you want to know which of your managers are leeches (meaning they suck out employee productivity), send all of your managers on a company-sponsored vacation and see which team performs better (and seems happier) without the manager.
I can see warning bells going off in your head, “But this is unheard of. You can’t even find it in the HR rule book.”
But if you really want to see results, you have to experiment!
Introduce a ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ policy
Even though many companies boast ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ on their company page, very few actually put that motto intp practice. One of the best and the easiest ways to introduce fun and games is to organize monthly multiplayer mobile game championships.
Choose a different type of game every month: Personally, I’d suggest a word game like Scrabble or the Apple Award winner Letterpress, which would bring out the wordsmith in you.
Another fast-paced, challenging game I like is Planet Matrix, which combines multitasking and problem-solving — players need to figure out math operations in an arcade-like environment that will keep a monkey navigating through space. As the game progresses, at certain points, the player is solving up to five different types of math operations. It’s addictive even if you are not a “numbers person.”
If you are using the Pomodoro technique to track work and productivity, you could easily fit in these games between breaks in the normal work day.
Give fitness awards
Every year, give away a fitness award or a certificate to the most motivated, active and fit employee. But how do you measure motivation, activity and fitness. Simple: Use the new-age pedometers that help you track all fitness stats, including — but not limited to — steps, calories, distance and active time.
There’s even an app for it — Pacer, which doesn’t need you to buy additional accessories like watches or bands. Pacer does a splendid job of tracking your activity, whether you’re walking the dog or sweating it out at the gym.
At the end of a year, compare stats and give awards for different activities and tasks like most calories burned, best outdoor runner, best biker and so on.
But how does competitive fitness boost motivation? When we think of exercise, we tend to think of benefits like better health, but many studies have indicated that exercising affects cognitive processing and work performance. So eventually you are helping your company by helping your employees.
Create a kid-friendly office
Imagine crayons and candy wrappers in copier machines and scribbles all over your whiteboards — messy, huh? But many companies are encouraging parents to bring children to work after school because it solves typical parenting worries, helps save money on child care, streamlines logistics and boosts employees’ productivity.
If you are worried about mess and noise, you could always sound-proof the space so kids can play, study or watch a movie and let their parents work without distractions.
What’s more, it seems to be in demand, but not many companies are bothered to listen!
Lisette Sand-Freedman, a mother and co-founder of Shadow PR, turns her agency’s showroom into a playroom packed with toys and activities to keep kids busy. Meetup.com founder Scott Heiferman pays a colleague’s 14-year-old to watch younger kids in the office. There are many ways you can make this little experiment successful. You can also go a step beyond and hire a babysitter. A kid-friendly office ensures your employees are not running around taking kids to and from school and after-school classes. It also means that if employees have to stay extra hours for a crucial project, they can.
At SC Johnson & Son, employees have an on-site concierge service that will take care of errands and other personal chores for employees — everything from going shopping and picking up dry-cleaning to taking kids to school, picking up lunch and depositing monthly rent payments, all in a day’s work! If you have a distracted, overwrought team that can’t manage work/life balance, you could probably start by offering concierge services to the employee of the month and then take it from there. Alternatively, you could offer housecleaning services, which employees could use once or twice a month. I can think of more than one person who desperately needs that perk!
Modern times call for modern measures. If you’re struggling with lethargy, low employee morale and other workplace issues, it’s time you look at experimentation with less distrust and skepticism. Many famous startups and modern companies are already experimenting with different types of daily schedules, longer maternal and paternal leave, interesting awards and perks, and grandiloquent pledges such as “We promise not to poke you with a sharp stick.”
Dipti Parmar is an experienced marketing and technology consultant, helping startups, ecommerce brands, and B2B SaaS companies establish thought leadership in their industry with innovative strategies through her agency 99stairs. She is a columnist for leading business and tech publications such as Entrepreneur Mag, Adobe's CMO.com, and Inc. Dipti has also been listed as a top startup marketer by TechCrunch.
When she's not drinking her team's blood (figuratively), she is busy telling vampire stories to little girls who like Disney princesses. Follow @dipTparmar on Twitter for her best insights.