With the New Year upon us, one of the many challenges for employers is to motivate staff as they transition from the holiday period back into productivity mode.
We talk to Mark Ferguson, incentive and event management expert and Una Diver, employee engagement and reward expert from Ernst & Young, who believe that corporate ‘wellness’ and team building go hand in hand with employee productivity.
Event management and incentive reward expert, Mark Ferguson is keen to point out that corporate wellness is about both physical and emotional wellness. Not only does Mark organise staff reward programmes as part of his role as group account director at Extra Mile Company, but he is occasionally called upon to also become the entertainment.
Mark is increasingly including physical activities when putting together incentive programmes and events. This includes team building games and energisers that can range from yoga, Zumba or Amazing Race themed games, and focusing on mental wellness through mindfulness and stress reduction techniques.
It is important to think of people as individuals and offer a range of appropriate experiences. Mark has run events that have groups taking part in performing arts and developing new skills from juggling to Broadway dance numbers. More extreme events include a “Top Town” style challenge with 300 delegates taking over a valley outside Queenstown.
“Some may want an ultimate, training masterclass led by a champion triathlete, while others may love an introduction to mindfulness or yoga. You’ve spent a lot of money getting these people there. By keeping them locked in a dark room, sitting still and watching endless presentations, you are not maximising your ROI,” he says.
Mark has seen numerous productivity benefits for employers who have chosen to include physical and emotional team building activities.
“These don’t have to be formalised programmes, it can be as simple as encouraging staff to drop tools in the middle of the day and head off to the gym for an hour, even when you are busy. When staff return their batteries are recharged, they feel good about themselves and are likely to be far more productive.
“Encouraging staff to get out of the office and exercise also demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to the wellbeing of their employees and that results in a win-win.”
Employee engagement and reward expert, Una Diver agrees. Una highlights the use of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP), described by INSEAD Professor, J Stewart Black as “creating a compelling reason for someone to be engaged, productive and stay”.
EVP looks beyond purely financial aspects and considers holistic aspects such as investing in learning and development, the work content and work environment, and event he internal culture.
“In my view, sporting and team building activities positively influence the Employee Value Proposition. They contribute to the features of the work environment and help build culture and support teamwork. They also give people the opportunity to build relationships in a different environment, outside the more task-focused, day-to-day work activities,” she says.
For small to medium sized businesses looking to incorporate team building or wellness on a shoe string budget, there are numerous options for employers. Look at activities such as social cooking, board game competitions, subsidising a sports team or getting the team to come up with ideas. Their latent creativity may be surprising.
^Event management and incentive reward expert, Mark Ferguson
“Great stuff doesn’t have to cost the earth. We have done a volunteer day at a decile 1 school, where the team landscaped and painted, followed by a team BBQ. Another option is to find something that people will enjoy and where you can enter a team, like the Harcourts Beach Series Corporate Package, or cost effective team sports like indoor netball or cricket.
“It’s important we give people the opportunity to bring their ‘whole self’ to work relationships and team building activities. Participation in sports gives employees the opportunity to do that.”
To measure the success of wellness initiatives and team building activities, Una suggests tracking turnover, considering sick leave records and looking at engagement statistics. Using quantitative measures allows employers to see if employees are being positively impacted by wellness programmes.