Everybody’s had one – a manager who rounded you and your co-workers up for what was supposed to be a “morale building” exercise that everyone secretly hated.
Initiatives like that can actually have the opposite of their intended effect — and hurt morale more than if management did nothing at all.
David Spark, owner of the custom publishing and social media firm Spark Media Solutions, has compiled a hilarious list of the most condescending morale boosting efforts real companies have actually tried.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Points for overtime work. An ad agency awarded employees who worked late a “Passion Point.” And when employees earned 10 or so points, they could turn them in for company-branded swag (valued around $25 bucks). So basically, people were paid about $2.50 per hour for their overtime work. Hip hip hooray!
- Merit badges. What happens when you give out a ribbon to employees who sell certain products — and make them wear the ribbons on the job? They decide they’re not going to sell your products, if it’s going to make them look ridiculous in front of their colleagues. A bank had to learn that lesson the hard way.
- The clown. You may not be afraid of clowns, but that doesn’t mean you want one roaming around your office. That’s what happened at one nonprofit when morale sank to a new low. The company hired a clown to drop in on (or shall we say interrupt) critical staff meetings unexpectedly and make balloon animals. Result? The clown dug an even deeper morale hole — one that everyone jumped into immediately.
- Forced camaraderie. When attendance started to dwindle at its company picnics, one organization decided it was best for attendance to be mandatory. What a better way to boost morale than make everyone attend an event they clearly wanted to avoid in the first place? Worse yet, the event was held on a Saturday. After all, if you’re going to make employees attend an event they’ll hate, why not hold it on a day they’re not going to get paid? Good thinking!
- Forced devotion. On corporate retreats, a hardware store chain made employees put their devotion to the company in writing, with their signatures. After that, they were all forced to chant company mantras together. Sounds like it could be fun for some (overly controlling management types, mostly), creepy for others.
What are some of the worst/funniest morale boosting strategies you’ve seen or had to endure? Please share them in the Comments Box below. We could all use a good laugh.