Rule 2 of becoming a great place to work: Spend time together

“Spending time together” is part 2 in a blog series: 
6 extraordinary ways to be a great place to work

A few months ago, I wrote about reward trips and the role they play in our company’s culture. That article—Reward Trips and Corporate Culture: Why You Should Travel Outside of Work with Your Employees—mentioned some of our travel experiences in Key West, at an NBA game, and even watching a march of ducks. I told you why we’ve come to see immense value in incentive trips with employees. Here are the highlights:

  • Improve employee morale
  • Establish shared interests
  • Put family first
  • Overcome communication challenges
  • Celebrate excellent performance together

The article also shared a few tips on how you might consider starting your own rewards trip traditions.

Relationship building makes a team great

Employee trips are part of a larger goal: Fostering great relationships between colleagues and motivating employees to view the company’s success as their own success.

Now I’d like to add to the idea of incentive trips as a bonding experience by sharing additional ideas about spending time together as a company.

1. Make it competitive

Walk around our offices and you’ll find trophies proudly displayed on dozens of desks. Cornhole champion of 2015. Poker tournament titleholder of 2017. Doubles ping pong victors of 2016. Our winning kickball players from this year’s game still greet each other with their team cheer when they pass in the hallways.

Our company soccer players are a model of teamwork and encouragement when they’re out on the field against other teams—then in the office the next day they razz each other for every foul or embarrassing missed kick.

Several of our engineers take over the employee training room one evening every month to play some multi-player game (MMOG). I’ll admit I have no idea what they’re doing, but they’re clearly having fun as they compete with and against each other.

Friendly competition is one of the greatest ways to form team relationships. So promote some fun rivalries with game days and team sponsorships. Then watch the on-field play turn into in-office collaboration as employees work better together and want to see each other succeed.

2. Get a little silly.

Office colleagues spend time togetherA few years ago we had a dunking booth at an employee celebration event. Dozens of employees lined up to toss balls at the target, hoping to be the one to send their manager swimming.

Back in the springtime, we offered an hour of PTO to any employee who dressed up for Star Wars Day (“May the fourth be with you”). As a managed I.T. services company, we expected lots of engineers to show up in full costume (and they didn’t disappoint us). But what really surprised us were Finance, Marketing, and Sales team members who showed up as Wookies, Princesses Leia, and Yodas.

People like to act a little silly—or to watch their fellow workers look silly! It’s more than fun and games, though. These are occasions when employees really bond and have fun as a team.

3. Kick in together

NetGain is a potluck-loving company. Every chance we get, we arrange a lunch where the company provides the main dish—usually hamburgers or fried chicken or a ham—and everyone adds their own special dish. Every time we plan one of these lunches, I know certain employees start to hear requests for favorite casseroles and desserts.

Potlucks encourage a “one for all” mentality. Nothing beats breaking bread together to encourage camaraderie.

4. Invite spouses

In that article on reward trips I mentioned above, I commented on the value of bringing spouses and significant others into the mix. Our Christmas parties, especially, wouldn’t be the same without all the loved ones sharing our celebration.

Including spouses and dates has a lot of upside. It helps employees’ families view the company in a positive light. It provides some additional insights about our fellow workers. And, of course, it adds lots of excitement and fun personalities to the party.

In short, if you want to be a great place to work, make sure you’re also a great place when employees aren’t working. Here’s a list of the full series about becoming a workplace of a lifetime:


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