Back in the day, when I was cutting my sales teeth at Xerox Corp, my 1st job out of college, we 100% lived the phrase “Work Hard, Play Hard”. We threw ourselves into our jobs during daylight hours – heads down, relentlessly charging forward, driving for results. And after-hours, equally focused on camaraderie, socializing, happy hours, and maximizing fun. Despite the stress and accountability, we loved our jobs, our teams, and our lives. We were living large.
Fast forward to today. How the phrase plays out (as I’ve matured – lol) has changed, but the concept remains as relevant as ever. Every one of my client companies is pushing the boundaries. Workload, goals, expectations. That’s all fine. IF balanced. In my role, I see/hear/feel employee frustration, disengagement, and burnout, firsthand. In one form or another, they are looking for the release valve. One form of release? Quite literally…quitting! Other high-ranking side-effects…poor work product, attitude, conflict, inefficiency, stress, strained relationships.
An across-the-board game changer for high-performing cultures is “fun”! Intentional fun. Team fun. Creating balance, camaraderie, connection, and engagement!
One of my clients, Kevin Toler of Kevin Toler & Associates, is a hard-working-intense-go-go-go kind of guy, and has created a many-plates-spinning-while-serving-the-client sort of culture in his super successful business. As a big believer in “people” and team development, I was hired to focus on continuous improvement, corporate culture, and raising “the organizational bar” while positively impacting the client experience.
One of the things we have done is to balance “Work Hard” with “Play Hard”. After tweaking some internal processes, Kevin immediately got on board, signed off on monthly events (in and out of the office), team building exercises, a formal meeting schedule, and deliberately scheduled fun! Given my love of delicious food, I was excited to attend the May event – a Friday evening cooking event – “Cooking with Beer!” at the Downtown Market Test Kitchen. Team members brought spouses, teamed up (Kevin and I were partnered), grabbed a cocktail, and proceeded to have a blast preparing an amazing meal, all recipes including some form of beer! By the time we sat down, we were pretty hungry, and consequently, absolutely devoured our meal. The menu consisted of Beer Braised Pork; Beer BBQ Sauce, Apple Slaw, and Cilantro Beer Rice, topped off with a deliciously rich Chocolate Stout Cake (my personal favorite)…YUM! After the meal, the team headed out the door, chanting “Work Hard, Play Hard” in pursuit of more spontaneous fun!