Well, this week is fall break here at Notre Dame and I can sure tell you - I would love to have a week off like my students. But, while I'll be working all week regardless, I can't complain because my department really does a good job working to maintain morale and a work life balance. As I move from job to job, I've come to realize that the quality of my working life is just as important as the tasks I'm asked to do. Menial tasks aren't so tedious when you are asked nicely to complete them - while exciting projects aren't so fun when you're bullied about, you know?
So last Friday, instead of dressing up for a regular day at the office, my co-workers and I put on our jeans and sweatshirts and piled into a college van for a trip to the Michigan City outlet mall! It was a day set-aside purely for us to take a break, spend time together, and bond. And it was a great time! I got to know a lot more about my co-workers (and their shopping tastes!) and it was so nice to have a day away from the computer and the office. And being treated to something nice by your employer? Such a great feeling.
Here are the things I've learned are really helpful in increasing (my) office morale:
- Flexibility: Arrive a bit late? No prob - stay a few minutes late to catch up. Have a doctor's appointment you have to go to - we'll make it work. Just eliminating the stress of clock-watching and minute counting is such a relief.
- Celebrations: The staff at my old office threw me an amazing going away party and the staff at my new office all went out to eat (on the office dime) to celebrate the new school year. Your work and your co-workers are a big part of your life - why wouldn't you recognize that and commemorate big events together?
- Breaks: Sure, personal days off are great - and important. But it's nice to break the monotony while at work also. We can't always take the day off for a shopping road trip, but just getting to work on different projects - like a department fundraiser or event - is a nice break from the usual grind. Oh and LUNCH! We have a designated lunch hour here and I love it.
- Team spirit: I think this is the hardest thing to grow and implement in a group, especially if there have been conflicts that sour the waters. But nothing gets me working hard like knowing I'm helping out my team - and that we're all in it for the same goals.
So, just a few thoughts on work for this Monday. Hope you're lucky to have good morale in your office, even if you're not so lucky to get a day off to go shopping ;)