11. Executive Recognition. This is the secret weapon. And like any secret weapon, timing is most critical. If this is used too often the value is diminished. And if it is used only for special occasions and rare achievements the value is escalated. We talked earlier about general recognition and the positive impact that has on your people. That will go up a few notches when it comes from an executive. Some of the same vehicles can be used here such as memos and voice mail. To add yet another level of stimulation, have an executive either personally call to congratulate someone (or a group) or even show up in person to shake hands and express his or her appreciation.
12. Social Gatherings. Scheduled offsite events enhance bonding which in turn helps team spirit, which ultimately impacts your positive work environment. Halloween costume parties, picnics on July 4th, Memorial Day or Labor Day, and Christmas parties are only some of the ideas that successfully bring people together for an enjoyable time. Some others that I've used with equal success are softball games (against other companies or among employees, depending on staff size), groups going putt-putt golfing or movie madness.
13. Casual Dress Day. This will apply more to the Business-to-Business world based on the difference in normal dress codes from the Business-to-Consumer arena. For those required to "dress business" every day a casual day becomes a popular desire. Use holidays to create theme color casual days such as red and green before Christmas or red, white and blue before July 4th, or black and orange prior to Halloween. This will add to the impact you're trying to have by calling a casual day in the first place. Establish pre-vacation casual days for each individual employee to enjoy on the day before his or her vacation.
Major sports events are a perfect opportunity for casual days to support your local or favorite team with appropriate colors, buttons, and logo wear. Spontaneous casual days produce a lot or stimulation based on the element of surprise. Announce a casual dress day for the following work day "just because." Use individual or team casual dress days as contest prizes or awards for specific accomplishment.
14. Time Off. Implement contests that earn time off. People will compete for 15 minutes or 1/2 hour off just as hard as they will for a cash award. And in many cases, I have had people pick time off over cash when given the choice. Put goals in place (padded of course) and when these goals are reached by individuals, teams or the entire staff, reward them with time off. Allow early dismissals, late arrivals, and extended lunch periods or additional breaks.
15. Outside Seminars. Outside seminars are a stimulating break. Because outside seminars are not always cost efficient for most people, consider on-site seminars or workshops for your staff. Use outside seminars as a contest prize for one or two people. Then set up a structured plan for those seminar attendees to briefly recreate the seminar to the rest of your people when they return. Now everyone gets educated for the price of one.
16. Additional Responsibility. There are definitely employees in your organization who are begging for and can handle additional responsibility. Our job as managers is to identify who they are and if possible match responsibilities to their strengths and desires.
17. Theme Contests. Over the years my contests have produced up to 170% increase in performance. But equally as important, they've helped maintain positive environments that have reduced employee turnover by 400%.
Overall the most successful contests seem to be those affiliated with different themes. Holidays, anniversaries, sports and culture are examples of ideas to base contests on. Sports, without a doubt, provide the largest opportunity for a wide variety of contests. Even Culture can be used to create theme contest. My favorite is using the '50s and '60s as a theme for a contest that I run at least once a year.
18. Stress Management. There are many articles and books available on the subject. Make this reference material available to your people. Make sure they know it is available and encourage them to use it.
If possible, have an in-house seminar on stress management techniques. So that production time is not lost, you might consider having a brown bag luncheon with a guest speaker on this subject. Because stress is an ongoing concern, anytime is a good time for a seminar like this to take place. Be as flexible as you can with breaks during the course of the day.
19. Pizza/Popcorn/Cookie Days. Every now and then pizza, popcorn, or cookie days will help break up that everyday routine and help people stay motivated. Because it is a natural tendency for people to get excited in anticipation of something, structure some of these days in advance. Then buy some pizzas or different cookies or even whip out some different types of popcorn.
20. Gags and Gimmicks. Use different gimmicks as awards to help inspire performance increases from your people. The key to awards is establishing the perception of priceless value that is associated with them. They should be recognized as status symbols in your environment. Here are some of my ideas:
. Plastic/rubber whale for "whale" of a performance.