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Dear Workforce How Do We Revive Employee Morale and Make Our Workplace Enjoyable?

My organization has a very strong “work hard” culture, but over the past year or so it feels like we've completely forgotten how to have fun. How can we recapture the magic?
September 7, 2011
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Related Topics: Recognition, Reward (Recognition) and Incentive Programs, Corporate Culture, Motivating Employees, Dear Workforce
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Dear Down in the Dumps:

Following a brutal 2009, your organization is not the only one that forgot how to have fun. To rebuild some team spirit, you need to do something fun, either on- or off-site.

An important aspect of any work group is a chance to build cohesion among attendees. Activities should be integrated throughout the meeting that give participants a chance to meet and interact with different individuals on a variety of tasks and activities pertinent to the goals of the group—or just to add a break or variety to the workplace.

Some activities provide an opportunity to learn more about co-workers, while others function to move discussion forward, drive decision-making or identify follow-on actions. Since most professionals tend to be pretty active in their jobs, it is often difficult for them to simply sit for long periods of time without being more engaged in the discussion.

You can easily build such participation activities with your work group and encourage a little fun along the way. Here's a sampling of participation activities I find to be of value that could get you started in the course of meetings and discussions at work:

Break the ice. Give each attendee a blank index card with five items on it (e.g., a person's hobbies, hometown, favorite sports team, favorite food, vacation preference) and ask them to find someone else in the room who shares their preference for each item. As an alternative activity, ask each person to find out one unique thing about five different people in the group. Have people report on the most unusual items people learned about others in the group.

Drive team discussions. Have group members "number off" so that you end up with groups of five to six members. For example: "All No. 1s meet over here; No. 2s meet there," and so on. Give each group an item to discuss pertinent to the meeting. Topics could include ideas on how to grow your business in a tight economy, cut costs in operations or similar themes. Ask people to brainstorm and select the best ideas, then report to the larger group. Collect ideas from each group, have them typed up, and distribute to everyone.

Live in a fish bowl. Forget PowerPoint slides. Instead, have a "fish bowl" discussion in which two or more participants discuss an issue, problem or pending decision facing the company. Have the presenters sit in a small circle of chairs in the midst of the group. Any other group attendees can enter the discussion by tapping an individual in the "fish bowl" and taking their place. Once all points of view seem to have been expressed, summarize the discussion and move to action items necessary for finalizing any decisions.

Take a fast break. Have all attendees stand and face to the left. Ask each person to grab the person in front of them and knead their shoulders. After a couple of minutes, ask everyone to face to the right and return the favor.

Use billboard rankings. List ideas generated during discussion on a flipchart. Allow each person in attendance to vote for a preferred strategy by sticking Post-It notes on the flipchart.

Use polling preferences. Similarly, allow each attendee to rank the ideas on a sliding scale of 1 through 5, with 5 being the highest score and 1 the lowest. Regardless of the results, allow participants to share comments, especially if there is disagreement on items that seem to have the strongest consensus.

End with a bang. At the end of the meeting, bring a bag of balloons of various colors and distribute one to each participant along with a small piece of paper. Ask each participant to write a message on the paper to be inserted into the balloon on topics such as "Something I promise to do as a result of this meeting." Ask everyone to insert the paper into the balloon and blow it up. At a common signal, have the balloons tossed and ask each person to grab a new balloon. Have participants pop their balloon and read aloud the message they received.

SOURCE: Bob Nelson, Nelson Motivation Inc., San Diego, January 29, 2010

LEARN MORE: Read how healthy work environments are being imperiled by global economic recession.

Workforce Management Online, March 2010 -- Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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