And the Gold Medal in Flonkerton goes to…

If you’ve worked in your share of offices, you’ve probably seen at least one coworker post the following sign: “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves.”

Ah, yes. Morale. It’s six little letters, but it’s a big concept–especially when you start considering all of the ways that employee morale relates to productivity and profitability. Happy employees get more done at work. They bring better attitudes to the job and are able to deal better with problems or issues that pop up during the day. Their higher levels of productivity, and their enhanced abilities to solve problems without losing their cool, add up to more profits for their employers. Not to mention the fact that the happier people are at work, the more likely they are to take care of their health, adding up to big savings on insurance costs. Happy employees are also less likely to take the extreme step of suing their employers, and teams with good morale and positive communication often don’t see the need for third-party union representation, either. Really, the only question is: Why don’t more companies take steps to improve employee morale?

Guidant Financial is one company with a serious commitment to fun. They take team-building and morale so seriously, in fact, that they have an annual Office Olympics in which employees compete for medals and 12-month bragging rights.  According to CEO David Nilssen, the Guidant Financial Olympics are a costly endeavor, both in terms of money outlay and time expenditure, but they’re worth every penny and moment spent.

On our last blog, That’s What She Said, my colleague Adam Klarfeld pointed out that competitive sports in an office environment can sometimes give rise to workers’ compensation claims against the employer or direct injury claims against a fellow competitor…errr, employee.  That’s true, to be sure. And managers certainly want to discourage mean-spirited games like “Pam Pong.” But for Guidant Financial, and for the many other companies that encourage a little team-building through friendly (and hopefully safe!) competition, there are plenty of benefits to be reaped as well.  Revived excitement about the company, and a spirit of friendliness and fun amongst co-workers… well, those are things that bring their own payout. As your lawyers, we’re always warning you about possible pitfalls (and make no mistake, we’ll keep right on doing that). But even your lawyers can’t deny that we’d rather work in an office where employee morale is given some real thought–not just lip service.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go sharpen my Flonkerton skills. You never know when they’ll come in handy.