A View from Blue Grotto

Friday, January 12, 2007

Spirit Week

Last weekend my husband and I found ourselves cheering on high school students from across Minnesota in the Spirit of America Cheerleading Championship at the Mall of America. They wowed the crowds in the Rotunda of the Mall with truly daring pyramids and stunts. And, as we stood there, applauding our approval, I turned to my husband and beamed a smile – “It feels like spirit week at high school all over again.”

The music blared, the energy was undeniable - of the squads performing, their families and friends anxiously awaiting their favorite team, and the relief after each performance. There was evidence of the event throughout the Mall with parents proudly wearing t-shirts emblazoned: Proud Parent of a Sibley High School Cheerleader, and young women in cheerleading garb talking excitedly in line at the Gap Store. I commented to my husband that the Mall could not have asked for a better event to host – think of all the discretionary dollars of 14-18 year-old young women who would be spending the better part of the day, or maybe even the weekend, at the Mall.

Retail dollars aside, I started to think about all that unbridled energy as we headed home. I told my husband ‘I think we need a Spirit Week in corporate America.’ My husband, showing early signs of becoming a curmudgeon, replied, “Isn’t that what your paycheck is for?” Now, that may be the expected response of a lot of middle management, folks who find themselves sometimes pulling teeth, cajoling, even bribing others to get a project completed.

Employment research data shows that employees need motivation. Today’s top talent can shop around for an employer culture that is compatible with their own values and they don’t hesitate to job hop when their needs are not being met, often regardless of compensation levels.

The Small Business Association lists seven key areas for creating an environment that “inspires people to do their best day in and day out,” and Appreciation tops the list. Tangible demonstrations of thanks for work well-done, pride in your employees and celebrating successes are all contributing factors to work environments.

Now, can a Spirit Week assuage all ailments of troubled morale? Probably not, but a little bit of fun, energy and pride can go a long way. Email me with examples of how your company injects a little energy and excitement into the workplace. Pajama Day not required, though I did find one – SouthEast Telephone in Kentucky that even documented Pajama Day in the Corporate Photo Gallery.

Yvonne Hundshamer
President, Blue Grotto Inc.