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Motivating staff on a budget

Awkward…. That moment when your work colleague struts through the meeting room door dressed as a Gladiator. Then you remember it’s the last Friday of the month, which means fancy dress Friday!  

For those of you that cringe whenever you hear the words “fancy dress”, you will know exactly how I felt on my first Fancy Dress Friday. But after a while I have to admit that apart from creating a little bit of office banter, it’s become a real date in the diary. It has had a really positive impact in terms of improving moral, and there has definitely been a lift in creativity and productivity within the team.

At its very core Fancy Dress Friday was conceived as a motivator to get everyone into the office on time, as the person who is last in the door on the last Friday of the month will be donning a new outfit for the day! Twelve months in, and the last person into the office is often 30 minutes early!

Initially, leading up to the Friday, people would be talking about it all week, but it’s amazing how competitive people have become. Nowadays you hardly ever hear anyone mentioning it, as no one want’s to inadvertently remind anyone else of the approaching day. On the Friday itself it’s not uncommon to see cars abandoned at the side of the road and full blown sprints breaking out across the car park as colleagues crash shoulder to shoulder through the office reception. All with the aim of not being the one opening the little package from our local fancy dress shop. In this context it doesn’t sound much like team building, but it’s actually all done in a really friendly, if competitive manor, and the cries of laughter often resonate long after the 09:00am start time!

The fun really starts at about 10:00am during the big ‘Stars in their Eyes’ reveal, as the phones are switched off and everyone not in costume is left grinning from ear to ear. This is closely followed by the inevitable requests to the Fancy Dressee: Can you grab me lunch from Sainsburys?  Can you pop to the bank for me? Can you lead a client meeting today? The banter is infectious.  

Whilst it is unavoidably back to work again, the energy is lifted, the music is turned up and everyone (well nearly everyone) is left with a smile on their face and an extra spring in their step.

“Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies. And “smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you.”   The science of smiling: A guide to the worlds most powerful Gesture. – Leo Widrich.

It’s not just us at Tutch that believe in the power of fun in the workplace, hugely successful businesses like Google make sure that fun is at the heart of their working day too.

With a slightly larger budget than a £25 fancy dress hire, Google have broken ground with their working environments including Rock Climbing Walls, Indoor Fireman’s Poles, Slides and Beds, whilst the likes of Linkedin and countless other creative agencies understand the stress relieving properties of a table tennis or pool table.

The realisation being that a happy workforce is a motivated one. On average people spend more than 90,000 hrs at work, that’s over 10 and a half years of their lives, solidly slogging it out at the grindstone. So why shouldn’t we have some fun while we’re at it.

But before you go off and implement your own Fancy Dress Friday or Dress up Tuesday, remember to set the boundaries for social media sharing when your team are strapping on a gladiators skirt and sandals, because as the great Maximus once said “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” (Gladiator 2000)

Written by Jodie Hall