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This Minnesota Office Got Serious About Having Fun Thanks to Their ‘Fun Committee’

When it comes to team bonding, the committee makes sure the job gets done.

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Carlson-Tillisch’s Fun Committee comprises a mix of leadership and support staff.
Carlson-Tillisch’s Fun Committee comprises a mix of leadership and support staff.

IT’S NO SECRET that close-knit teams are more productive. According to one study reported by the Harvard Business Review, socializing between team members improves communication patterns by more than 50%. But smaller businesses have relatively few resources to devote to this important aspect of management. Sometimes, organizing office bonding activities simply falls in the lap of that one enthusiastic employee who’s most inclined to organize a karaoke night. But the folks at Carlson-Tillisch Eye Clinic in Mankato, MN, found a way to share the organization duties and keep monthly bonding activities fresh, without breaking the bank.

THE IDEA

The CTEC crew have always enjoyed group activities. But at some point it became hard to ignore that while the fun was shared, the planning wasn’t. “It gets overwhelming for one person to always come up with ‘fun’ ideas each month,” says Stacey Breuklander, director of operations. “We decided to create a team to take the pressure off of that one person.” The result is CTEC’s “Fun Committee.”

THE EXECUTION

According to Breuklander, the current committee comprises a mix of leadership and support staff. “We have our Team and Business Administrator, Sales and Marketing Manager, a front desk teammate and an optician.”

Handed a modest budget of $50, the team meets once a month, with each member asked to come up with ideas for the following month’s activities for Carlson-Tillisch’s 34 staff members working at two office locations. Says Breuklander, “The small budget forces creativity when planning the activities. We play bingo, have CTEC Olympics and blindfold challenges, play Find the Gnome, and hold events to celebrate national holidays — usually food related — and even had a carnival.”

This Minnesota Office Got Serious About Having Fun Thanks to Their ‘Fun Committee’

Find the Gnome is a particular favorite. One person will hide a homemade gnome and send out hints via the office messaging system. The first person to find the gnome wins a small prize (say, candy) and bragging rights. “You will be able to tell when a message has gone out because you will see anyone free running to their suspected hiding spot,” says Breuklander. (It’s not just a matter of fun and games. According to TeamBonding.com, staff leisure activities that involve competition have been shown to increase productivity. Through “a fun, inclusive team building activity,” it writes, “teams can bond in a more effective way than by other methods. Learning to work well together can take some time, but you’d be surprised at how fast teams can come together when there is an incentive to win on the table.”)

THE REWARDS

The team has reacted positively to the activities, says Breuklander, and customers have noticed. “We get the occasional, ‘Wow, you guys are having fun!’ comment from our patients in the office, and more comments when we share pictures via our social media pages,” she says.

“I think the biggest benefit that has come from these fun office activities is our tight-knit team. All levels of the office participate in the activities.

It reiterates that we all play for the same team — Team CTEC!”

This Minnesota Office Got Serious About Having Fun Thanks to Their ‘Fun Committee’

Do It Yourself: Set Up an Office ‘Fun Committee’

  • STRATEGIZE. If you have multiple offices, have a plan for each one. “Will they do the same game? Will they have their own committee? etc.”
  • RECRUIT. Encourage staff to get involved in the committee.
  • EXECUTE. “Have fun!” Breuklander reminds her peers.
  • DESIGNATE. While the idea is to share the load, a point person is still a good idea. Find someone that wants to be accountable for running the committee, advises Breuklander.
  • PONY UP. Set a budget for the committee’s activities (it doesn’t have to be large) and stick to it.

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