Friday, November 1, 2013

unCon 2013 Session: Beyond Beer and Ping-Pong: A Different Perspective

Moderator: Sebastian Fung, Dapperjobs

Free massages, haircuts, on-site gyms, and dry cleaning. Not everyone can shell out money for benefits like Google can. So what can a company do to keep their employees happy and productive, outside of beer and ping-pong (which can skew younger). Here are some of the tips from the unConference group:

- Walk and talks. This is something we do at Vsnap that someone also brought up during the session. Next time you’ve got an intense topic or a long meeting, try scheduling part of it outside. Walking and breathing in that fresh air is not only good for you, it’s good for your ideas as well.

- Get out on the water. When DapperJobs was at the CIC, they would have meetings while kayaking on the Charles. This takes a little more coordination, but it’s a great way to mix up your regular powwows.

- Find out what other departments are working on. At Method (the soap company), they don’t have a receptionist. Instead, every employee (all 200 of them) rotates into that role every 6 weeks. They also do a standup with every employee each morning. I don’t know about the scalability of that, but there’s something really great about knowing exactly what’s on the plate of your team members / what they’re struggling with, even when your team is that large.

- Give back to the community. This is one of my personal favorites. Not only are you impacting others when you take time to volunteer, it’s a great way to get to know people outside of the office.

- Set aside some money for fun. Someone shared that their company had a quarterly fun budget for each department that they would spend on a day off. Some people would go to the bookstore and buy books they could swap within the group. Others would go volunteer or some other day trip.

- Okay, beer with context. Gail Goodman talked about Fridays at Constant Contact. Each week a different team sponsors a beer cart. It’s a moment to celebrate with the company if they’ve just launched a product / project /initiative, but it’s also during the workday so people don’t have to stay late to participate.

The important thing about culture and keeping employees happy is about being consistent and empathetic. Not everyone is the rah rah type or can work crazy hours, but if you give them space to grow in a way that’s authentic, they bond on their own and can create a well humming machine (thanks to Chris, who was in the session, for that last bit).

- By Trish Fontanilla, @trishofthetrade

VP of Community & Customer Experience, Vsnap

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