December 1999 - Fun at Work
Our December newsletter is devoted to the enjoyable side of work, consistent with one of our underlying principles (Fun). This month we are honored to have two articles by Matt Weinstein.
Work and Play, Reward and Recognition
By Matt Weinstein
Work and play are supposed to be opposites, like love and war. According to popular belief, work is not supposed to be fun. That�s why, they all say, it�s called work. If there is time for fun and play at all, it is usually reserved for the weekends. Does it have to be this way?
This is not to say that adult life should be all fun and play, but it could certainly be a lot more so than it is now. Especially during the week and in the one place where most adults spend most of their waking hours � at work.
The phrase �reward and recognition� is usually associated in the workplace with the idea of financial gain or a bonus. But if you can add some fun and play to a financial reward, you can make the experience a long-lasting one for your employees. It increases the likelihood of employee involvement and participation in the program, which is the key to a high-impact program.
A good example of a reward program that incorporates fun was implemented by Wells Fargo Bank in Northern California. The three-phase program, called �In Good Company,� was designed so all Wells Fargo employees could honor their coworkers.
In Phase 1, called �A Cash Award,� all the full-time employees of the bank received a $500 bonus and the hourly employees each received a $50 bonus.
However, Phase II, called �A Way to Thank Others,� went further. Employees were told to award a $35 certificate to the coworker of their choice. In announcing the program, the bank explained, �Working with good colleagues helps make all our days more fulfilling and being in their company helps us achieve more.�
In the final phase, the $35 certificates were tabulated so that Wells Fargo could give special attention to people who had received the most certificates. These winners (31 in all) were profiled in the �In Good Company� newsletter, accompanied by photographs of them and glowing testimonials from their coworkers. Then all 31 were guests of honor at an awards banquet hosted by the chairman of the board, Carl Reichardt, and the president of the bank, Paul Hazen.
At the banquet, the award recipients were given their choice of 101 different imaginative awards, including:
Unusual Time With Senior Executives:
Off Ice Fun:
But what about smaller businesses or individual departments of larger corporations, who may not have the budget to replicate the Wells Fargo program? It is the core idea of peer reward and recognition that is important and that idea is one that can be creatively adjusted to fit many varied budgets. Pacific Bell Directory found a way to adapt the Wells Fargo �In Good Company� concepts to fit its own needs.
It created the �Gotcha!� award that could be presented by anyone in the company at any hour or any day during the work year. All employees in the department were given a supply of �Gotcha!� certificates worth $5 each. They were then instructed to be on the lookout for colleagues who were doing exceptional work. Management and non-management employees alike were given the same number of certificates to award. As soon as a Pacific Bell Directory employee caught somebody doing something right, he or she yelled �Gotcha!� and signed over a $5 gift certificate to the coworker.
�The $5 is just a token,� Pacific Bell Directory employee Vance Lampert says. �Everybody knows that. The important thing is that it feels great to know that your hard work is being noticed by the people you�re working with. I had completely forgotten about the whole �Gotcha!� thing the first time I had one given to me and the person who awarded it to me made a big show of announcing it in front of everybody. I kept thinking about it all day and it made me feel good the whole week!�
That is the goal of reward and recognition programs.
Another important element is that they bring some fun into the workweek. After all, wars are sometimes fought in the name of love and sometimes work can be fun.
Source: Articles used with permission of author. Thanks, Matt!
When it comes to customer service, every business is show business because the more fun you have with your customers, the more likely they are to continue to do business with you. �Once I get them in the store, I�m going to have a customer for a long time because our store environment is such fun they�re going to want to come back over and over again,� says Dick Snow of Ben and Jerry�s Ice Cream. �We believe that we�re in the entertainment business and selling ice cream is just a part of what we do. In our store the counter is our stage and the customers are our audience.�
After you have created an enticing atmosphere at your place of business like the one Dick Snow describes, the next step is to dream up some inventive ways to let prospective customers know about your fun-friendly environment. Lynn McDonald, another Ben and Jerry�s franchisee, printed up prescription pads that she distributed to the pediatricians in her town. After each visit, the doctors could reward their youthful patients with a prescription for a free ice cream cone from Ben and Jerry�s. And of course, these youthful customers brought their parents along with them, simultaneously introducing the whole family to the joys of Ben and Jerry�s.
In another marketing masterstroke, McDonald printed up tickets that she distributed to the local police officers that read, �I know who you are and I saw what you did.� The police officers would use these tickets for people they caught performing random acts of kindness and these good Samaritans who had been caught in the act could exchange their tickets for free ice cream cones, which not only promoted McDonald�s business to random strangers in the community, but also gave her a chance to reward the citizens of her hometown of Sarasota, FL for their good deeds.
Many successful companies are well known for relationship selling. Successful salespeople at these companies know that the intentional use of laughter and fun can help to distinguish them from the competition and establish a good feeling between themselves and prospective customers.
Brian Palmer, vice president of the National Speakers Bureau, recalls a time that he had a good working relationship with a client at a large investment firm. There was another executive in the firm at a higher level with whom Palmer did not do much business. Palmer asked his client about this and she told him that her boss had told her jokingly that, �Brian doesn�t suck up nearly enough.� His client assured Palmer that this was intended as some sort of a backhanded compliment because her boss had delivered this comment with good humor. Palmer had purchased a new Dustbuster portable vacuum cleaner for his home the previous day and immediately sent it off to his client�s boss with a letter that said, �Since I can�t be there, I sent the enclosed to do my sucking up for me!� �I�m told that he came close to failing off his chair when he opened the package,� says Palmer. �I also heard that he walked around the office showing his gift to all his underlings as a great example of �sucking up.��
On the one year anniversary of this gift, Palmer sent the executive a package of replacement filters. �It turned out in the end that he did not have very much business to give after all,� he says. �Though what he had, he gave to me.� Of course, Palmer�s technique might be inappropriate for your own particular style of doing business, but the basic idea of his approach is a valuable one � do something fun to create a relationship with your customers that sets you apart from your competitors.
Here are some fun things that you can do in your organization to enliven your interactions with your customers and create the kind of corporate culture that rewards your internal customers - your own employees:
Matt Weinstein is the nation�s foremost authority on the use of fun and humor as a management skill. He is founding president of Playfair, Inc., an international consulting firm that presents hundreds of innovative programs each year in the areas of team building, reward and recognition, and stress management. Matt Weinstein�s new television special FUN WORKS!: The Power of Humor in the Workplace, was broadcast nationally on PBS. Website: http://www.playfair.com e-mail: matt [at] playfair.com (800) 750-5439. Article used by permission of author. Thanks, Matt!
Article used with permission of author.
Page updated: May 11, 2023
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