As a kid, did you buy those pharmacy-branded Valentine’s Day Cards with cheesy sayings like “Just speeding by with Valentine 'Hi'”?
It’s that time of the year when renowned artists and entertainment industry titans come together to recognize the best of the best—it’s award season. The Grammys came and went, and the Academy Awards are around the corner, but award ceremonies don’t have to be limited to Hollywood.
What if your office had its own fun way to recognize the stars who made significant contributions to the company’s success all year?
Right now, there’s a buzz of excitement around the entire company—every office, every city, every single person is pumped. And I’m not just saying that. It’s REAL. You can feel the energy in every meeting, message, and email.
Do you ever feel like you can’t get your events strategy right? Ever feel like you don't have the answers on how to make an event inclusive and still deliver an experience that is fun AND helps your team connect?
I’m the CEO, so if I don’t live our company’s core values then who will? Since the Zog brand was founded in 2002, there have been multiple iterations of our core values. Over time they have become our vernacular, our vocabulary for giving feedback, as well as our guidelines for making decisions and guiding daily behavior. We have put considerable thought into the Zog core values, so it’s no coincidence that my company’s core values are not so different from my personal core values.
Company Definition: We facilitate other people’s fun and have fun making it happen.
Personal Definition: Life is too short to not have fun. If not now, when?
Company Definition: Through the spirit of camaraderie, we share ideas, efforts and resources to accomplish our goals.
Personal Definition: Sometimes you need to lead and sometimes you need to play your role on the team.
Company Definition: We care about the company, each other and the work we do. We care about our customers, their experience and the communities in which we play.
Personal Definition: We treat each other with respect.
Company Definition: We do what we say, meet our commitments and provide a consistent customer experience with relentless organization.
Personal Definition: We do what we say and keep our word especially when it’s hard.
Company Definition: We take ownership and do whatever it takes. We are go getters who identify and creatively solve problems.
Personal Definition: We take initiative to solve the problem.
Company Definition: We are committed to getting better every day in everything we do both as individuals and as a company.
Personal Definition: We keep doing our best and trying to get better each day.
These personal core values have not been formally imposed upon my family. (I’m not that awkward, though some may disagree.) They’re not written on a wall or explicitly incorporated into family dinners. Rather, I use them as guiding principles for how I want to live, how and when I feel the need to provide constructive feedback and how I want members of my family to treat one another.
Here are three ways I incorporate core values into my personal life:
- Youth sports. I coach six teams each season for my two super active boys (see photo above). I create a positive experience for every player so that they learn to love team sports and the process of getting better. And it works! My retention rate is > 95% over the past seven years.
- Listen to your coach (Caring, Team Player, Continuous Improvement): This is about respecting your coach/teacher/elders and allowing others to learn, as well.
- Try your hardest (Reliable, Caring, Own It): Whatever you do, whether it’s sports, music, acting, school, volunteer work, relationships or your job, don’t mail it in! If you’re going to show up, give it your all.
- Have Fun (Fun!): No one I coach is a professional athlete. Let’s enjoy the experience.
2. Our language and actions
- That’s not the way we speak to XYZ (Caring): Caring about each other includes using caring language to speak with one another.
- We do what we say (Reliable): We stand by the commitments we make explicitly or implicitly (e.g., school assignments, commitments to other people).
3. General parenting
- We’re not helicopter parents (Own It): My wife and I know that we need to teach our kids resilience and resourcefulness, so we let the kids solve many of their own problems. For example, one month after our then fifth grader chose French as his foreign language, he came to say that he hated French and wanted to switch to Spanish. While we easily could have contacted the school for him, we didn’t. Instead, we asked him why he wanted to switch and asked what he thought he should do to make it happen. He went to his house advisor and middle school director and made the switch happen himself!
- Everyone in the family has a job to help us become a successful team (Team Player): This is especially true for the mundane like chores, helping each other when not asked, taking care of your own responsibilities, etc.
- Family traditions are created together (Fun): We discuss what each of us think would be fun to do together and vote. We’ve organized game night, card games, traveling to watch March Madness in another city every year, letting the kids plan family vacations, and more.
If you have comments or questions, please leave them below.
If you believe that what we believe and want to join us, check out our career and part-time opportunities at https://www.zogsports.com/join-the-team.aspx
About the Author
Robert Herzog, Founder and CEO, ZogCulture and ZogSports
I believe life is better with real personal connections, caring communities and a sense of play. I founded ZogSports after my close call on 9/11. In 2012, we launched ZogCulture to help create playful experiences at work so that employees can connect, be part of a community, and infuse play into the DNA of their company’s culture. We are directly impacting over 150,000 people per year across the country and have donated over $3.4M to charity. In 2017, Zog made the Crain’s Best Places to Work list (again!) and earned the prestigious B Corporation “Best For the World — Community” award.
If you’re interested in this sort of stuff, I have an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from Wharton and a BA in Economics (which I rarely use) from Brown. I live and play in NYC with my awesome wife of 15+ years and two super active, sporty boys.
Interested in playing in a ZogSports league? ZogSports is America’s most popular social sports community, with over 125,000 players forming millions of new friendships every year. Sign up here to play.
Interested in bringing play to your company? ZogCulture creates playful employee experiences that create connections and builds community at work. Learn more by visiting our site or email Danny@ZogSports.com to inquire about bringing Zog to your office.
Core values have received more attention in the past year than ever before. More companies are recognizing that improving their office culture is a strategy that leads to sustainable success and at the center of a company’s culture are the core values in which they truly believe.
August in the office is a funky time. People are in and out, the pace is a whole lot slower than normal, and meetings are often pushed off due to people’s unpredictable travel schedules. Don’t beat yourself up over this less productive time in the office.
I was 22 years old. It was my first job post college. I already missed the camaraderie of college and playing intramural sports, but this was my first real job (and a tough one at that — at global consulting firm Mercer). I needed to focus 100% on work. Make a good impression. Show them how committed I was. Didn’t I?
The most common question we get from new clients is “Do you have any tips to create teams for our upcoming company event?” Yes, yes we do.
Below are our team creation guidelines to use the next time you’re creating teams for your upcoming company event:
- While numbers matter, visibility matters more
Despite what research says, there’s no magic number for optimal team size. A Fortune study listed 4.6 as the ideal group size, but we’re not sure what happened to the other .4 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The main point is this: create teams where everyone gets a chance to know everyone else’s name.
Depending on the dynamics of a group, this may be ten people, or it may be thirty people. Create a space where everyone has a voice and can be seen.
2. Mix it up
Company events are the perfect time for your employees to get to know people they may not normally have the chance to work. The graphic designer is no longer “just that guy who sits at that table” and the CEO may become a relatable team player. Deliberately placing employees on teams with people they may not know allows for new connections and expanded networks across the company.
3. Assign roles
Have you ever been asked to make a decision in a group, though there was no clear leader in the room? When in this situation, it often starts with silence until one person steps up and proposes a direction. The conversation takes many turns, though ultimately may lead to a final decision. In this instance, a leader naturally arises.
When you have less time for a company event, we suggest designating a leader for each team so that the leader can bring clarity, direction and organization to the team. Our challenge to you is assign the captain role to people who are seeking new leadership opportunities. It’s a chance for them to shine and test out their leadership skills.
You may also want to assign other roles such as a scribe or a co-captain, depending on the activity and dynamics of the group.
4. Create a team name and a social contract
This is when the fun kicks in. Once teams are announced, ask each team to come up with a team name based on what the team shares — either in experience, interests, or fun facts. This helps teammates to get to know each other and identify differences as well as commonalities. An example of this is all members of the team may have a summer vacation planned and may have a shared loved of cats. In this instance, the team may name themselves the “travelling cats”. Admittedly, not the strongest example, though try it out and let us know how what you come up with!
In addition to a team name, we encourage you to create a way of working together. Ask teams to commit to five principles they will commit to while being on a team. Examples of these can be, “We will be on time” or “We will high five each other after every activity.” Once all five commitments are written down, ask each team member to sign the contract to put the social contract in place. Note: the team contract can also be used outside of company events and for any team you put in place within your organization.
According to this article from Wharton, the most important part of creating a team is outlining who are we, what are we going to do and how are we going to do it? — the team name and team social contract is one way to live into this.
Are you ready to create teams that impact employees beyond just your day of event? Do you have other tips? Leave comments below!
The Zog Culture Business supports organizations by increasing morale and collaboration, and enhances the employee experience by creating connections and camaraderie. We offer Field Days and Company events, In-Office Programming, and Private Tournaments. Learn more by visiting our site or email Danny@ZogSports.com to inquire about bringing Zog to your office.
Summertime and the livin’ is easy, though just because the sun is blazing and the rooftop frosé is singing a Siren’s song, it doesn’t mean the work stops.
Think about the last time you experienced play — maybe it was a game of beach volleyball on your spring vacation, or a round of trivia at the bar last weekend, or maybe it was as simple as that “Would You Rather” question you posed to your friend on your subway ride.
Now think about the people surrounding you during that moment. Think about the laughs you traded, the high fives you shared, and the stories you now have to tell.
Imagine if you could bring this playfulness to the workplace to connect with your coworkers and be part of a community where people cared about each other and knew each other in a “real friends” type of way. Work, and life, would be a whole lot better, don’t you think?
Use these tips to incorporate play into your company culture to feel connected to your colleagues, part of a community, and so you can play in and outside of the office:
1) Playful meetings. Are there ways you can add play to recurring meetings? Whether it’s an all hands, a weekly 1:1 or a team meeting, think about ice breakers, riddles, or fun rituals you can add to spice them up. For inspiration, LivePerson uses a technique called “connection before content”. The leader of the meeting poses a question at the start of a meeting designed to get people out of their comfort zones.
2) Three questions. At ZogSports, every employee answers the following three questions and sits down the with CEO to share their responses:
1) What’s your dream?
2) What do you want to learn/develop in the next year?
3) What are the top 10 personal things you want to do in your free time?
By allowing space for these conversations in the office, people are free to share their dreams, ambitions, and what they do for fun. Work and life blend, and people are supported in reaching their personal and professional goals.
3) Birthday ritual. Whether we like it or not, birthdays are a constant and happen regardless of what else is happening in the world. See this as an opportunity to celebrate, and set one day per month to acknowledge all the birthdays from the last 30 days. Pro tip: Ask each person celebrating their birthday to choose their favorite birthday treat.
4) Games in office. While perks certainly do not make a great culture, bringing games such as foosball, ping pong or even playing cards gets people up and away from their desks.
It’s not the games that create the playful culture, it’s the way people show up to the games that creates connection and community.
5) Healthy competition. Who doesn’t love setting and reaching a team goal? While this is often a tactic used on sales teams, think about other areas of the business where you can start a challenge and create friendly competition. At ZogSports, we have a gym challenge where employees set gym goals and hold each other accountable to meeting their goals.
6) Moving meetings. Taking walking meetings and/or having standing desks is a great way for people to get up and out of their normal routines. According to a research article published in Harvard Business Review, walking meeting increase creative thinking. Get moving!
7) Music. Music is scientifically proven to change your mood (even sad music can boost your happiness!), so play it in the office when the time is right and you’re looking to shift the energy. You may be surprised how 90’s rock helps people transition from lonely heads down work to fun collaboration.
8) Leaders lead. Ask your leaders to lead by example by being vulnerable, trusting, and smiling. Research shows that smiling is in fact contagious, so encourage your leaders to embody these positive traits of leadership so it spreads throughout the organization.
9) Summer outing. Plan a summer outing to give people the chance to connect out of the office. Baseball games, summer picnics, or happy hours are a great way to bring the fun outside and enable connections, community and play.
10) Start a fun committee. We’ve noticed the companies with greatest “play cultures” have teams dedicated to bringing fun to their office. This may (or may not) be their full time responsibility, though empowering your employees to take the lead on bringing in play allows them feel ownership and greater connection to the play experience.
How do you incorporate play into your company culture?
ZogSports is America’s most popular social sports community, with over 100,000 players forming millions of new connections every year. In 2014, ZogSports realized the need to bring connection, community and play to workplaces, and launched the ZogSports Culture Business.
The ZogSports Culture Business supports organizations by increasing morale and collaboration, and enhances the employee experience by creating connections and camaraderie. We offer Field Days and Company events, In-Office Programming, and Private Tournaments. Learn more at www.ZogSports.com/Corporate-Events.aspx or email Danny@ZogSports.com to inquire about bringing Zog to your company.