How do you inspire your employees?
If you are trying to create a fun, fostering environment that will inspire your employees, you have to go a little crazy. (Although running your own company will probably already have you well on the way).
I have always gone out of my way to create bright, colorful workplaces – doing everything I could to avoid stuffy offices and dreary boardrooms. The truth is that I cannot get excited about working in this environment, so how can I expect my employees too?
Nothing stifles creativity more than a drab, dreary, old-school office. Those clichéd “motivational” posters on your wall are doing quite the opposite. Most likely, they are only motivating your employees to want to smash them into pieces.
And you’d better have a crazy compensation package on your dreary table if you think you are going to attract any top talent to your sad little office. The fact is that top talent read blogs and watch enough TV to know what kinds of environment cutting-edge start-ups are offering their employees.
ReThink is one of the top advertising agencies in North America. And in order to stay there , their stakeholders have gone a little crazy. How? Well, does using a ping-pong table for a boardroom table or installing artificial turf for carpeting sounds reasonable to you? It certainly sounds FUN, but not exactly “reasonable.” However, it is an absolutely brilliant strategy – a literal physical embodiment of their corporate culture…which insists on doing things differently.
It’s also brilliant because it didn’t cost them thousands of dollars. You don’t need fireman’s poles or foosball tables to compete with these guys, either. Bright paint, funky furniture, and an open concept go a long way in establishing a unique working environment for your current staff, and help you to attract a-level talent in the future.
How can you get started right now?
One of the easiest ways to show how quirky you are is to let go of tired naming conventions for your boardrooms. One office I worked in named meeting rooms after the planets, with the furthest aptly named Pluto (yes – it’s still a planet if you ask me). We all laughed pretty hard when the receptionist would say that the “CEO is still in Uranus so please wait for him in the lobby”…
Have your employees brainstorm ideas or make it a contest to see who can come up with the best options. This is another way to get employees engaged and excited about work – and coming into the office.
You can also work toward making your office more social!
Some of my clients balk at the idea of making the workspace more comfortable to socialize in, but I am a huge proponent of it. One of the most natural and most authentic ways to build a world-class culture is to bring in a barbecue and use it often. The break from the grind is welcome, conversation flows naturally, and who doesn’t love a free lunch? This gives employees something to look forward to that is not related to “their job,” and allows them to get to know each other outside as real people.
I also encourage you to stock your lunchroom with fresh fruit and healthy snacks and to build “nap rooms.” If you expect them to work long hours to help you grow your business, you have to provide amenities that make it easier and more healthy to do so. You might be thinking “let my employees nap at work? Ridiculous, I am not paying them to sleep!” But if you Google “productivity and naps” you will find hundreds of articles that support taking naps (here is one from The New York Times).
The COO Alliance is here to help with these, and many other, challenges facing COOs today. For more information, and to apply, click here.
And, if you want to dive deeper into this topic I’ll recommend picking up a copy of my book Double Double. There is a chapter about creating world-class culture, and another one on work-life balance!