A How-to Guide on Having Fun in the Office
It’s no secret that teams that enjoy working together are more cohesive and productive. And this isn't any different for CPA firms and accounting teams, even if we have to overcome the “boring” stereotype.
If you're stuck in a no-fun rut in the office, here are four ways to balance out the daily grind. Use them as is or to spur on your own creativity for having fun at your practice!
1. Granting wishes. This is a low-cost way to keep spirits up around the office through positive experiences that are more memorable than costly.
How-to: Give everyone in the office or department a notecard. Ask them to write down one small wish that could be accomplished for under $10 – or free. Periodically grant wishes for your team.
- “I’d like a Venti Triple Soy Latte and a slice of banana bread on my desk when I arrive in the morning.”
- “I’d like to get to work in the large conference room all day, with my two office friends.”
- “I want to have a two-hour lunch!”
- “I want Sam (boss/supervisor/office vice president) to personally go get my Burger King lunch for me and deliver it to my desk.”
2. Order of the Elephant. This idea originated from the Danish company Kjaer Group, and it promotes team-building through recognition.
- Buy a large, stuffed elephant (at least 12 inches – preferably 18 inches or so).
- Award the elephant to a person who did something remarkable: helping a colleague, providing great service, or going above and beyond in their own way. Tell them what they did to receive it and how much you appreciate their efforts/work.
- The rewarded individual gets to keep the elephant at their desk until they award it to someone else.
- When others see the elephant on a new desk, they often ask about it, and stories of excellence in the office get passed around, improving the work environment and productivity for everyone.
Set the stage for this initially by making sure people understand the type of actions required that lend prestige to receiving the Order of the Elephant.
3. Fun pranks. The key with pranks is knowing your audience. Nearly everyone would be up for some level of fun, but how far you go and in what way will depend on the individual’s sensitivity. There are many pranks that are fun without causing anyone embarrassment!
- Birthday: Get in early and gift wrap everything on the birthday-person’s desk. Monitor? Wrapped. Pens and pencils? Wrapped. Coffee mug? Wrapped. Consider including a small gift, too (also wrapped).
- Vacation: Buy some double-sided tape and stick down everything on their desk. It all appears just as they left it, but when they try to pick something up, it stays stuck to the desk.
- Budget cuts: Replace someone’s computer with a typewriter or pen and paper. Type or handwrite a note telling them that due to budget cuts, the company had to cut back on its technology funding. It’s even more fun if everyone else can play along for a few minutes and express their sympathies before giving back the necessary equipment.
4. Mock awards. This can be a great add-on to a team meeting, or in conjunction with another event. It helps others show appreciation for each other and can be either fun or genuine – or a combination of the two.
- Put people in teams of two or three and have them create and give awards to two or three other individuals in the office. Works best for teams of six to 15; divide up a larger group if necessary.
- Provide a sample Award Certificate template for them to use, make sure the recipient’s name is nice and big, and that the award is given a title: “Most Smiles in the Morning” or “Best Use of Post-It Notes.” Awards can be silly and funny, or geared toward recognizing actions that have been otherwise unrewarded in the office.
- Have award-granters write a few sentences about what the individual did to receive this award.
- Hold an awards ceremony where the certificates are presented to the recipients. Bonus: Many will hang them up in their workspace as a reminder of the fun and positive feedback.
There are a million other ways to have fun in the office. What are some that you’ve seen?
Need a little fun right now? Play the What Type of CPA Are You? quiz game.
About the author:
Kristen Rampe is a CPA who provides strategy, direction, and professional development workshops on communication, team-building, and client service – all delivered with a winning combination of wit and wisdom. If you liked this article, you can find even more ways to improve your practice on her blog or by following her on Twitter @KristenRampe.