Why is July anti-boredom month? It’s a natural time of year for the doldrums. The holidays are far away and there are no urgent rush seasons going on. Summer days drag by, as workers leave for or return from vacation time. For an office job, it’s the worst season, because it is bright and sunny, a perfect day for recreation, and you’re wasting it in an office cubicle. In addition, the kids are out of school, which makes parents feel like they’re missing out on spending time with their kids.
Companies should care about employee apathy because the quality of work sometimes suffers. More mistakes happen that need to be corrected and more productivity gets lost due to lagging performance. Surprisingly enough, investing in just a little frivolous diversion can help your workers buckle down to work later.
Some studies have also shown that a brief period of mental stimulation helps clear the cobwebs and improve attention and cognitive performance. At the very least, some diversionary tactics help break the stress and routine of the long summer days and weeks.
Team building exercises are often just manager-speak for “we need to get you out of your cubicle and moving around.” You can justify many fun activities as team building and cajole everyone into participating. But here are a few off-hand ideas to stimulate your employees during the dull summer months:
This can be as silly or as serious as you want. An official sports team for your department gives you a great reason to hand out matching T-shirts, rally everybody together, and get them cheering for each other. Simple low-impact sports like volleyball, softball, or bowling are ideal here.
This can be something silly like organizing a scavenger hunt, or a contest tied to work productivity. Here’s the catch: instead of some practical company gift, have the prize be something a little “out there”. Maybe two tickets to a local rock concert or a case of gourmet coffee. Pick something that will get your employees talking. The important thing is that everybody has fun doing this.
Maybe take one day to have a break from the usual work schedule and organize an event. It doesn’t take much; a pizza and movie party is just right. A company picnic is even better if you have a local park available. Some larger companies go all out and host a carnival, with small party kiosks rented from a local vendor. This can be a big event you can build up to in advance, giving everybody something to look forward to.
What would your employees think if they encountered an ice cream vendor cart in the lobby for one week? Or came in Thursday morning to find a gift card for the local mall on their desks? Or you suddenly announced, “Bring your pet to work day”? Or you just hired a clown to wander through the office handing out balloon animals for one day? Make your office an interesting place to work.
You can stock the company break room with board and card games. Perhaps even one day of the week, give everyone an extra half hour devoted to games. It’s important that they’re playing physical entertainment together rather than just zoning out playing on their phones. Similar to the sports team idea, you can even organize a competitive company team revolving around their favorite game.
You’d be surprised what an impact any of these methods have. By at least encouraging a little fun on the company clock, you’ll not only fight burnout, but boost employee morale by showing them that at least the boss has some heart. By showing you have a human side and a soul, your employees are more likely to put up with the drudgery of the day-to-day job; you’re telling them that you know the work is tiresome and thanking them for doing a good job.
There are many more ideas out there. Just try to avoid being predictable with your measures; nothing says “boring” like handing out pens and paper-clip wells with the company logo. Come up with perks and activities that are imaginative enough, and your employees will be talking about anti-boredom month until the holiday season!