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spike bullet December 1999 - Fun at Work

Work and Play, Reward and Recognition
Having Fun with Your Customers
Books and Internet Resources

Pixie DustOur 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.    

color bullet 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.

You Lucky Dog!At the banquet, the award recipients were given their choice of 101 different imaginative awards, including:

Unusual Time With Senior Executives:

A $200 shopping spree at Carl Reichardt’s favorite store, Banana Republic, and lunch at Paul Hazen’s favorite lunch spot, Burger King - hosted by Carl and Paul.  Or the employee could have Carl Reichardt, Paul Hazen or one of the vice chairmen do their job for a day, and train and supervise the executive.

Family Assistance:

A two-hour body massage on April 15th or two pounds of Mrs. Field’s cookies each month for the next year.

Field Trips:

A weekend for two in the wine country and a case of wine, or a makeover and pampering at the local salon of the employee’s choice.

Off Ice Fun:  

A balloon bouquet delivered to the office every month for a year, or morning coffee and croissants for the employee’s entire department served by the group head.

Family Fun:

A birthday party for a child on the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, or four annual passes to Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sea World, Great America or Marine World Africa U.S.A.

Physical Fitness:

The initial membership fee and first month’s dues for a spa or health club.

Cultural Improvement:

A world globe on a stand or one year’s worth of selections from a book club.

Entertainment:

Two tickets for a New Year’s Eve gala or local limousine service to a Dodger game, Dodger jackets, box seats, hot dogs and beer or soda for two hosted by Dave Petrone.  And finally, my personal favorite,

Corporate Immortality:

A menu item named in their honor by the Wells Fargo cafeteria.

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!

color bullet Having Fun with Your Customers

By Matt Weinstein

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.  

Wild IdeasHere 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: 

  • Hold a lottery where the winner gets driven to and from work one day in the company limo.  If you don’t have a company limo, rent one for the day.

  • Instead of writing out checks for the holiday bonus, give out cash.  Close a few hours early and take your employees to the mall for a company shopping spree.

  • Hold a pajama party where your business stays open all night and encourage your employees and customers to come dressed in their pajamas.  Have food, entertainment and prizes.

  • Take a group photo portrait of your office-mates dressed up for Clash Dressing Day or Suspender Day or Polka Dot Day, etc.

  • Bring a bottle of sparkling apple juice (or champagne if your corporate culture permits it) to work on alternate Fridays and toast the success of the past two weeks.

  • Send pizza to the home of an employee who has worked overtime so he or she won’t have to cook dinner after work.

  • Bring in a bouquet of flowers one day and present it to one of your coworkers.  Tell him or her, “I want you to keep this on your desk for the next half-hour.  Then pass it on to someone else and ask them to do the same!”

  • Create a Stress-Free Day where a masseuse walks through the office giving neck and shoulder massages on request.  Out in the parking lot all the employees’ autos get a free carwash and someone roams the premises giving out free shoe shines.

  • Organize a Photo Safari where each team armed with disposable cameras, has to bring back photos of themselves in unusual teambuilding situations like waiting on tables in a restaurant, sitting in a police car, perched in a tree or playing catch with a dog.

  • Sponsor an ugly tie/ugly shoe contest for all employees — and let your customers and suppliers be the judges.

  • Provide doggie treats for your customers’ dog and get to know the dogs by name.

  • Write out unpopular tasks on slips of paper — things like taking mail to the post office, cleaning up the office kitchen, changing the toner in the printer — and place each of the slips of paper inside a balloon and inflate all the balloons.  One by one, each of your coworkers gets to pop a balloon and discovers his or her task for the day.

  • Trade gift certificates with other local merchants like the ice cream shop, movie theater, video store or coffee bar so your employees get a sizable discount on purchases there and their employees get a discount at your business.

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.

book graphic  Books

  • Work Like Your Dog: 50 Ways to Work Less, Play More & Earn More by Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber Villard Books; (June 2002) ISBN: 0812991990

World Wide Web graphic  Internet

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Page updated: June 05, 2009      

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