I used to tell people I hired that to work at the radio station there were two qualities you had to have – you had to love Jesus and you had to like to have fun. If you do, then you will be fit in well. If you don’t then get a job in accounting. Uh wait. Maybe not. Never mind.
Fun is an important part of an organization’s culture. A lot of the “best workplaces” surveys include questions about fun because winning teams know how to have fun.
What is the fun level at your station? Is it higher or lower than last year? The past few years have been challenging for a lot of people including your staff. Loneliness, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. How about breaking that with a dose of fun?
One disclaimer about fun. There will always be people who don’t want to have fun. They are fun-busters and not only do they not want to have fun, but they will also tell others too. Don’t focus on them. Eventually, the culture you are creating is one they won’t fit in and they will usually leave. Instead, focus on the bigger picture.
Here are some suggestions for you based on real life experiences. The promotions department can be a great resource for prizes. I even have a money maker for you as part of this list.
Scavenger hunt. Before the staff gets to work hide prizes throughout the station. Then at a certain time when most of the team is there, announce to the staff there are prizes in a certain area of the facility.
Surprise lunches. Who doesn’t like free food? Tell the staff you are taking them all out to eat that day. (A lot of restaurants will do this for free to have your radio station there.). I am always aware of the donor aspect so not spending listener money is good.
Surprise outing. Pick a day of the week and tell the staff you are all going somewhere together. Bowling, miniature golf, and video games are all great destinations. (Again, get it donated or trade it out.)
Staff sports teams. Nothing says fun more than having your very own station basketball team or softball team. Besides being fun for your staff, it’s a great way to connect with the community. For the softball teams, challenge area ministries or churches to play. Ask them to provide the field and lunch. J Honestly, our sports teams weren’t very good. We lost almost every game. One time I remember we played an area crisis pregnancy center. I thought for sure we would be playing women in their third trimester, but it was the staff – and we lost. But in radio, isn’t losing to a group of listeners really winning?
Crazy one-off contests. During weekly staff meetings, have ice breaker games to start off the meeting. “Minute to Win-it” type games work great. Outside of staff meetings do random games at unannounced times. Suggestions include seeing who could make a paper airplane fly the furtherest or dropping an object off the second level to the ground to get close to a target. One time during Rodeo Art season for children in Houston, I had the staff draw their own Rodeo Art. We hung it up on the station hallway and we had children judge the best drawings. It’s amazing the talent you find.
Afternoon board games. Close down the office for two hours over lunch and have everyone bring their favorite board game. Battleship. Risk (well that one may go longer).
Staff potlucks. Here is the money idea. When a staff is small it’s easy to do a potluck. Families can come and it’s simple. But as a staff grows, it can really be a challenge. My development director had a great idea. Often the major donors asked what they could do to help the station beyond just giving financially. Her idea was to create a Ladies Guild whose function was to provide meals, desserts and everything needed for a staff luncheon. They would handle all the preparation and cleanup. Not only did this bless the staff, it also allowed a deeper engagement with our major donors. We didn’t do it for this reason – but we saw direct increase in giving because of the Guild.
Staff Olympics. This was my personal favorite. Every two years there is the Winter or Summer Olympics. So every two years we would have activities to mimic the real Olympics. From snow skiing on cardboard to toboggan races with office chairs, the staff turned on their competitive juices. I was really surprised how aggressive the prayer team was and how the accounting and legal team tried to find ways to go around the rules (see accountants can have fun). We divided the staff by “countries” and even had an open and closing ceremony. We didn’t have any valuable prizes to giveaway except for a very memorable staff day of fun.
With over 40 years leadership experience in broadcasting, Tim is now helping radio stations grow. He can be reached at Tim@TimMcDermottConsulting.com (Yes, he is also a CPA who likes to have fun.)