By Mandy Clark
If you’ve read our book, The Top Ten Lessons for Successful Business Leaders and Managers, you know that one of the lessons we shared was the importance of having fun. Let’s face it, if your people are not having fun at work, they will not perform at their full potential. In fact, they will probably not hang around for long.
Employee engagement is always a hot topic among business leaders, and that is not likely to change. There are many things you can do to create an environment which encourages your people to be more involved. I found, through much trail and error, that bringing fun to the workplace has a significant impact, not only on morale, but also on individual performance. Here’s some good news: It’s not hard to do, and I am going to share three simple game ideas that you can adapt to your place of business. These ideas are simple and easy to implement, but do not underestimate their effectiveness. Also, the ideas I am sharing here can be modified however you see fit, and made to fit whatever business you’re in.
Game Idea # 1: If you have a break room in your business, you may have noticed that it can quickly become a place where people go to gossip or complain about almost anything, but especially about work. This creates a negative environment which will creep into every area of your business.
This game idea will help reduce the amount of complaining by simply giving everyone something else to focus on. All you need is a dry erase board and some markers. Then, write a question on the board that will shift people’s focus to something fun, nostalgic, or make them dream about possibilities.
You can come up with your own questions, or you can use the Internet if you get stumped. Just open your browser and search for “ice-breaker questions”, or “would you rather” questions. The results you get from either of these searches will help you come up with some good questions. It won’t take long to figure out what kinds of questions work best with your team. Here are some example questions that got the best responses from my staff.
You can leave the question up on the board for about a week, or however long it takes for everyone to have an opportunity to write their response.
Fun Tip: Encourage your staff to write their responses to the question, but not put their name next to it. This adds another level of fun because the rest of the staff will try to guess who wrote each answer.
Game Idea #2: If you have a large enough staff, and can obtain enough participants, start a “Secret Buddy" game. What is a secret buddy? It is similar to a secret Santa, but usually for a longer period of time, which you can designate. Decide the maximum dollar amount for each gift (we know of companies who use amounts as low as $5), and then have participating staff members draw names from a hat. Here is the key to this game: The secret buddy who is purchasing the gifts will have to subtly, without giving themselves away, get to know the person they are buying for. That way they can be sure their buddy enjoys the surprise.
How do you play?
Let’s say we decided the Secret Buddy game will last three months, and that my business partner, Keith, is my secret buddy. We determined that on the 20th day of each month, I will (covertly) leave my secret buddy his surprise gift. Over the course of the month I would get to know Keith and find out what he likes and dislikes. Any one who knows Keith will know that he LOVES coffee. So I may decide to buy him some Iced Espresso Shots from the grocery store.
This game encourages your staff to get to know each other, especially in ways that are not work related.
Game Idea #3: Take one of your favorite board games and re-purpose it! Any game can be re-purposed for your staff. I re-purposed both Monopoly and Bingo for my staff and they loved it. I will give you examples of how I re-purposed these games to fit the business I was managing, and you can do something similar for your business.
Monopoly: You can go online and find a game board template with blank squares (where the properties would normally be). You can also open up Excel, Google Sheets, or something similar and create your own. You can fill in the blank squares with whatever prizes you want. When I did this I used gift cards of varying amounts from several different stores. In the square where the jail would usually be, I put a photo of the owner of the business, along with the rules for the jail, which were the same as the original game.
Next, have the staff choose their game pieces. Who gets to be the car, top hat or thimble? Get creative! I had our staff create their own game pieces, and then we glued magnets to the back of them, and the game board, so we could stick the game up on our dry erase board, or the fridge.
How do you play? The business I managed at that time was a membership based company, so every time a membership was sold the employees involved in the sale of the new membership would get to role the dice. Then they got to move their game piece and wherever they landed they would win the gift card associated with that space. You can tailor this to your company and what bench marks you have already set for your staff. Then let the fun begin.
Bingo: Go online and print off a series of free bingo cards and numbers. Next, allow your staff members to choose their own Bingo cards.
How do you play? Once again, I was managing a membership based company at the time, so our version of Bingo involved the selling of memberships. Each time time a membership was sold a bingo number was drawn out of a bag. The individuals who were directly involved in the sale would mark the number on their card. Once a staff member hit BINGO they would win a $20 gift card. We would usually play this game long enough so that at least two or three people had won.
Like I said, most any board game can be turned into an incentive based or team engagement game with some minor tweaking. If you aren't sure what would work best, or how to make the game fit your particular business environment ask your staff. They will appreciate being involved, and you will ensure you have chosen a game they will enjoy playing.
Remember, the key is to create an environment, or culture, where people can have fun. When your team members are having fun, they will be happier. When your team is happy they will perform better, and they will make your customers happy.