The start of a new year often means new employees or employees transitioning into new roles within the same company. This translates to what can be an adjustment for everyone in the work place. To alleviate any feelings of anxiety or stress that such changes may bring, we suggest getting on the right track with a fun event that includes everyone from the top brass to the newest employee. Encouraging fun in the workplace strengthens relationships between co-workers and helps break the ice for new hires.
Over the past 30 years, we have picked up a few tricks on encouraging fun and breaking the ice. Following are five tips for putting together a successful program aimed at engaging the newest members of your team.
Laughter Breaks the Ice
Not only is laughter the best medicine to cure a foul mood, it is also the elixir that makes a group of co-workers get along. Plan some silly activities that get the whole crowd laughing; if possible, bring in an emcee (or select a person from your team with a playful and outgoing personality) to lead the activities. According to Andrew Tarvin, an engineer and humorist, humor connects us with others, reduces status differentials, builds trust and encourages people to work together. Humor breaks down barriers and makes people more comfortable because everyone is on the same playing field. Laughter sets a playful tone and kicks off the event in a positive spirit.
Senior Staff Should Lead by Example
It’s important for all members of the company to join in the fun. If you see the VP of Accounting doing her best to balance six dice on a tongue depressor, a new hire is less intimidated to give it a try himself. If the higher ups think it is important to do a team building program in the first place, then they should walk the talk and be on a team with their new hires and other employees.
Promote Playful Competition
Choose challenges that don’t require a lot of skill, but do require teamwork to accomplish. As guests look around the room, they might see play zones set up with different challenges. One challenge we like is Moving Forward Together. Teammates’ interests are definitely piqued when they see 120 pool noodles spread out on the side of a ballroom. Guests place a pool noodle between themselves and the teammate in front of them. As one long chain, they move from one end of the room to the other without dropping their noodles. No hands allowed! Choose activities that are fun and fast, involve a little strategy and force the team members to solve a problem within a time limit. It might take them a few tries, but they will get it!
Vary the Challenges
If you need to slow down their heart rates a bit after completing a physical competition, word puzzles or visual challenges are a fun activity that the team can do together at the table. Create several pages of puzzles so that there is enough for every two people to work on together to solve the riddles. These challenges are good for people who might feel more confident solving brain teasers than they are at physical challenges. By adding both types of games at your event, everyone feels that they can contribute to the team’s success.
If you are looking for puzzle ideas, try Pinterest or Buzzle.com for inspiration. Take note of your puzzle questions though – be sure they are accurate and can appeal to a number of your guests.
BYOB painting classes are popular at art studios around the country and people are getting in touch with their creative sides. A collective art piece is a fun way for a new hire to literally put their mark on the organization. Serving adult beverages may help their juices flow, so this activity might be particularly fun as a pre-dinner/cocktail party event.
When we organize this activity for our clients, we use six panel murals and set up paint stations around the room. As people wander from station to station, they can contribute to the mural. At the end of the event, the panels are put together and the group can see their masterpiece. Our professional artists put some finishing touches on the artwork and it is delivered to the offices for display. The artwork is a tangible reminder of a fun-filled company outing.
Back at the Office
New hires want to be part of an organization that is fun and promotes good energy…
Don’t let the fun stop when you get back to the office. According to a study conducted by Warwick University, happiness makes people more productive at work. So keep your employees engaged and having a good time in the workplace. Here are a few more ideas to keep the fun going:
• Put board games in the lunch room so employees can play a quick game during their break.
• Paint one wall with white board paint and encourage employees to write positive messages on the wall for all to see.
• Start a fantasy football league competition or Oscar pool, but consider organizing it by department rather than by individual.
• Surprise each other with random acts of kindness – leave flowers, cards, jokes, treats, etc. on each other’s desks.
You can also create an office competition to encourage well-roundedness. Staffers can earn points for working out, bringing their lunch rather than ordering out, sitting with someone new in the break room, volunteering at a local charity, etc. Change the challenges every week or month or quarter to offer variety.
Whether at an off-site event or in the confines of the office, the key to engaging new hires is to provide opportunities that foster camaraderie among coworkers. Create situations that promote team building and communication. Soon colleagues will not only find the things they have in common, but will have fun while interacting with one another. This strong sense of connection will lead to a happy, engaged team.
If you are looking for ideas to engage your new hires, contact us!
Corporate Event Interactive