How a ping pong table might just help your business to grow

employee benefits and office perks such as the ping pong table

Does your workplace encourage you to take regular breaks and rest? Or are you tied to your desk from the moment you walk through the door, with lunch ‘al desko’, until it’s time for you to head home?

Gimmicky employee perks such as ping pong tables, beer fridges and Playstations in the office have come in for a bit of a bashing recently.

And I agree, that when sold as an employee benefit these sorts of things are superficial and only good for their novelty value.

But – let’s look at them another way.

The ping pong table could be seen as a clear sign from the boss that employees are encouraged to take regular breaks, switch off and spend time with each other.

That beer fridge says, hey, we want you to hang out with your colleagues here and not be working yourself to the bone.

And the spaces in the office those items are placed in encourage employees to get together, talk and get to know each other.

So, why is this important?

I’ve been thinking about these ‘workplace signals’ and how they relate to a fantastic talk I heard from Bruce Daisley on happiness in the workplace and the importance of taking a break.

EatSleepWorkRepeat Bruce Daisley with me and my colleague
A cheeky selfie with EatSleepWorkRepeat’s Bruce Daisley and my colleague Kim

Bruce Daisley is the man behind the #1 podcast EatSleepWorkRepeat and a VP at Twitter.

Here’s some of what Bruce shared, extracted from his ‘New Work Manifesto’ that got me thinking:

  • 40 hours of work is enough – the best thing you can do to improve productivity is to work less. By preserving energy, you get more done.
  • Stress destroys creativity.
  • Office chatter about last night’s TV (for example) leads to work discussion. As a result, the most creative organisations are the ones with the most office chatter.
  • The most productive teams are those with the strongest bonds.

The big takeaway for me is that rest and relaxation, as well as time spent socialising with colleagues, could be a real contributor to business growth.

And as I thought through how we actually facilitate that and use it to our advantage, I realised that this is a joint responsibility.

Firstly, for all of us, as individual employees, who need to be more mindful of our work/life balance.

And secondly, for the employer, who needs to plan how they will send an intentional and clear message – both literally and physically through the workplace surroundings, that they value and encourage this balance.

Only then will we see more creative, more productive and happier employees who’ll deliver greater benefits for the organisations in which they work.

I think it’s time to bring on the ping pong!

 

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4 employee questions every leader should answer this January

Four employee questions your internal communications must answer this January (1)

After the slumber of the holiday season, January is the perfect opportunity for leaders to fire the business equivalent of a starting pistol for the year ahead.

Get it right and you’ll set a great pace for your people for the next 12 months’ organisational journey.

Misfire this month though, and you could send your employees in different directions, lose momentum later in the year, or worse still not even get them out of the starting blocks.

So to avoid that, here’s four employee questions I think leadership communication should answer this January:

1. What’s our strategy, again?

Even if your business strategy remains broadly the same as 2017, don’t assume your employees will know that. Take the chance to share a recap, point back to previously published resources for further detail and share reminders on information to bookmark for reference.

Maybe it’s also time to reassess your approach to ensure your most important information is communicated clearly, with context, to employees.

2. What’s different this year?

When you communicate your strategy, be clear about what’s the same, and also what is different. Often a list of the things that you aren’t doing any more / aren’t prioritising, is just as valuable for employees to know as the list of the things that you will be doing.

3. What are our specific goals for 2018?

Get clear on what needs to be achieved this particular year. While your strategy may work towards a vision that’s two, three or even more years ahead, get specific about the here and now.

4. What do you need from me?

Ok, while you may not be able to make it personal at an organisational-wide level, answering questions 1-3 above should set the scene. At the very least, your company-wide leadership communications should provide a steer – particularly around the behaviours, skills, mindset and attitude that leaders will need from all employees in the year ahead.

Managers need to be equipped to support their teams to understand how their role connects to the bigger picture. Guidance in the form of talking points / team meeting templates etc will help them to do this more effectively at the local level.

 

Does your internal communication need a diet this New Year?

Does your internal communication need a diet this New Year?

Remember when all internal communications were akin to ‘three square meals a day’?

In the ‘kitchen’, comms teams planned out the hearty and filling news, with enough nutritious information to sustain employees throughout the working week.

A couple of daily news stories on an intranet, a monthly CEO message and a printed employee magazine.

The regular sustenance meant employees could anticipate corporate information, build an appetite and know what they were getting.

Moving past broadcast

Okay, so not everything was so great. This broadcast, one-way communications approach was like serving up a dish and then running back to the kitchen. We forced everyone to eat alone and we rarely asked anyone what they wanted to eat.

Slowly, we adapted and we’ve come a long way since then.

We started to sit down with our employees and we started conversation over dinner.

Most importantly we even got employees cooking and serving up meals themselves.

Employee voice, employee-generated content and the shift in comms teams from content creators to content curators has no doubt benefited the organisations in which we work.

But then, somehow, I think we’ve lost our way.

A 24/7 drive thru of information

We were so happy to see our people cooking for themselves, we started to forget that this snackable content might lack the nutrition of more strategic content. And with so much of it being produced, it would be easy for people to fill up quickly, skip main meals and spend time constantly eating.

In business terms it means we’re seeing information overload, confusion about strategic direction and a lack of understanding about organisational goals.

Putting a communications on a diet

More than ever before, in 2018, our comms kitchens need professional chefs, menus and a weekly meal plan.

We need to give people the time to digest the important stuff and not get overwhelmed by the never-ending supply of snacks on offer.

And so, as many of us try to shed those unwanted xmas pounds this January, maybe it’s time to put our comms on a diet too?

Why not..

  • Take a good look at your existing diet: What are you sharing too much of? Where are the gaps – which ‘vitamins’ aren’t present that will help employees really connect the dots and understand where your organisation is headed? Plan wholesome content for a stronger story.
  • Publish your menu: Create a strategic anchor point by publishing your organisational strategy and throughout the year show how individual ‘dishes’ of content form part of this overarching menu.
  • Label your food groups: Signal to employees that content is ‘need to know’ versus ‘nice to know’ helping them to better self-select what they consume.
  • Move the chocolates away from the till: Curate the best employee stories that support strategic clarity and put these ones front and centre instead. This isn’t about putting a stop to employee voice, it’s about helping people navigate through the noise and making sure we don’t confuse people with too much information.
  • And finally, pass on your expertise with cookery classes and cookbooks: Provide even more training, guidance and toolkits to employees to help build the capability within your organisation for ‘healthier’ communications.

What do you think? Does your internal communication need a diet?

This post is also available on LinkedIn here.