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How to Infuse Fun Into Any Company Culture

We’ve rounded up 7 exciting ways to engage your team and infuse some fun into your day without having to all be in the same room. Check out our list of 7 Team Building Activities for Remote Employees now!

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About This Episode

Does fun in the workplace really matter? Absolutely! 

In this masterclass episode of One Next Step, Tricia and Lisa talk about the ins and outs of creating a fun company culture – and why creating one matters. The truth is, building a positive and fun company culture is one of the best and easiest ways to recruit new talent and keep your current talent feeling fulfilled and dedicated to your mission.

1.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.

As we say at BELAY, we’re not running an ER here. No one’s life is at risk because of what we do. In the middle of a stressful day, be sure to keep everything in perspective. Relieve a little of the pressure and be intentional about making time to have fun. A fun and productive culture can exist at the same time.

2. Team members need to see leaders having fun.

Sometimes, leaders can get a bad rap for being unapproachable and distant. And, sometimes, that perception is warranted. That’s why it’s important for our team to see us having fun, too. When we’re in the middle of it all, or when we’re the first one on the dance floor, we communicate that we’re approachable and relatable. We’re not the boss in the corner office who no one ever sees. Set an example for having fun!

3. Find people on your team who can help.

If you’re not as comfortable stepping out and coming up with fun activities, that’s okay. Look around your team – who are the outgoing extroverts who would never miss a party? Recruit them to help you come up with some things that will help you build a fun, engaging work culture. This doesn’t have to be expensive and extravagant. You can do small things to recognize your team and their effort. They will appreciate the time to unwind and likely become even more passionate about what they do in your company. 

Why does creating a fun, company culture matter?
Talk about some of the ways you already infuse fun into your company culture.
What are some other creative, new ways you could expand on that?
What’s an example of the most fun you’ve ever had at work?

Find your fun and bring it to work with you.

Tricia Sciortino

A fun and authentic culture builds a dedicated team that is on fire for your mission.

Lisa Zeeveld

Sometimes it's the little fun things that make all the difference.

Lisa Zeeveld

All hard work and no fun does not make for a great environment.

Tricia Sciortino

Don’t take yourself too seriously, seriously!

Tricia Sciortino

Tricia Sciortino on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Lisa Zeeveld on Instagram and LinkedIn

BELAY’s staffing solutions

(01:43) Lisa talks about one of the most fun and meaningful experiences she’s had at BELAY. (Spoiler: It involves a scavenger hunt!)

(04:32) Tricia talks about the lip sync battle they had at BELAY.

(05:06) The “why” behind building a fun company culture. 

(06:12) Your team is more productive when they know that you care about them as an employee. 

(07:33) Team members need to see their leaders having fun. 

(10:43) What are some of the things BELAY does to inject fun into the culture even though they are all remote?

(13:41) Use these experiences as opportunities to allow team members who don’t usually work together to get to know each other. 

(15:51) Diversify your fun.

(17:33) What are some unique ways you can recognize team members for doing a good job?

(19:05) Fun, at its core, sometimes just means how you set the tone as a leader. 

(21:42) Building a fun, energetic, authentic, happy culture just takes a little thought and preparation. It’s easy to have a fulfilled, dedicated team on fire for your mission. 

(23:45) This week’s one next step: Download our 7 Team Building Activities for Remote Employees. We’ve rounded up some ways to engage your team and infuse some fun into your day without having to all be in the same room.

Tricia Sciortino:

Honestly, and this is our tagline for fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. And so, we say often around here, “We’re not running an ER. No one’s going to die on our watch here at BELAY. So, let’s put it all in perspective.”

Speaker 2:

Welcome to One Next Step, the most practical business podcast in the world, helping you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence, with tips and tools you didn’t get in business school. Here are your hosts, Tricia Sciortino and Lisa Zeeveld.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Welcome to One Next Step. I’m Lisa, COO of BELAY.

Tricia Sciortino:

And I’m Tricia, the CEO of BELAY. LZ and I have learned a lot throughout our careers and this podcast is our way of sharing what we’ve learned with you. Those experiences helped us grow a 100% remote business from startup to being recognized on the Inc 5,000 fastest growing companies list.

Lisa Zeeveld:

That’s right and for the One Next Step podcast, we want to bring you episodes filled with excellent content. We’re here to help you on your leadership journey and ultimately, help you enjoy your work and your life.

Tricia Sciortino:

And today we get to talk about fun.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Oh, I love this topic. I feel like we should have party hats on or some additional-

Tricia Sciortino:

Pop the champagne.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes, yes, exactly. Exactly. Maybe some fun sounds that happen in the background, but no, this is going to be great. I can’t wait to talk to you about this.

Tricia Sciortino:

At BELAY, fun is actually one of our core values and we really do believe that fun is so important to running a great company with great culture. So, LZ, do you remember, or what is your most fun activity, that we’ve done that has brought so much positive change to our company?

Lisa Zeeveld:

We get to cheat here a little bit and I know these questions. I know a lot of them and I’ve been sitting here pondering about this one and this is going to be lame because I think all of our activities are super fun. I think we do a great job. We’ve done an amazing job over the last 10 years. Our founders really wanted us to have fun. So, it was a little bit hard narrowing it down because I think each and every one of them helped us create the phenomenal culture that we have today because ultimately, it’s about stretching people out of their comfort zones, but at the top of my list would be the scavenger hunt that we did as an organization, probably about five years ago now. For those of you out there listening, we get our teams together in person a few times a year, and basically we hold everybody, lock everybody up in a conference center and we have a jam packed agenda. Think of it like your very favorite conference that you’ve been to. That’s what we create and we broke our team members into teams, and they had to do this really fun scavenger hunt in downtown Atlanta and take pictures along the way and you can really see-

Tricia Sciortino:

The competitive nature of some people really came out.

Lisa Zeeveld:

That, too.

Tricia Sciortino:

They just wanted to be the winning team with the most points. People, they got serious about it.

Lisa Zeeveld:

There was, and there was a couple of things that were kind of funny on the list. One was to get a tattoo.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And we actually had a hard time convincing people not to go get a tattoo.

Tricia Sciortino:

Be careful what you wish for.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right, and then another funny thing on the list was a penguin. And again, convincing people that no, we were not going to go to the zoo to try to get a penguin, but no, it was just great because you have a variety of comfortability on your team. And so, for some individuals, this was their jam. They could not wait to get out there, run around, take pictures, talk to strangers, and then those who were not comfortable with it, really seeing them get into their little bit of a groove and stretch themselves out of their comfort zone, and I think that right there brings people together because it’s not just about that scavenger hunt. It’s when we all went back to work on Monday that you had a little bit more respect for your team member, you had these great memories and it’s like being in the trenches with somebody. You just trust them a little bit more, maybe give them a little bit more grace, and you ultimately enjoy working with them more. So to me, that’s it.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

How about you?

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. Well, Oh gosh. You already know what one I’m going to say.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Oh, I do.

Tricia Sciortino:

My favorite was the lip sync battle. We had a lip sync battle and that was the most fun. People went all out, costumes, coordinated dance routines. It was the best time ever.

Lisa Zeeveld:

You keep trying to bring it back.

Tricia Sciortino:

I do. I keep trying to revive the lip sync battle. It’s got to make a comeback because it’s just the best. People loved it or they hated it, and we converted some people. We converted some haters into, okay, that was actually really funny, but at the end of the day, the whole why behind it is just that building great culture is us facilitating relationships and bonds. It’s really team building. Those are our ways of integrating team building into what we do. So, we take a lot of energy and effort and thought into putting those things on. Not just because they’re fun, but because the results, the why, is that we want our team to have relationships with each other.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and I think it just shows them that you actually care about them. It’s that one opportunity in business where you say, “I don’t need you to be productive. I don’t need you to produce anything. I’m actually going to pay you to sit around and have fun.” And it does the opposite of what so many people think it’s going to do. What do you mean? I’m going to take people off site for a day and they’re not going to be productive, but you send them back to work and I really do believe, I’m sure there’s some statistics out there that will tell you how just how much more productive your team is when they know that you care about them more than just an employee.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. All hard work and no fun does not make for a great environment. So, we have really found that people who love working for their organization, really do show up and give more of themselves. We have found that being able to foster those great relationships and honestly, and this is our tagline for fun, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. And so, we say often around here-

Lisa Zeeveld:

Seriously.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah, seriously. We say often around here, “We’re not running an ER. No one’s going to die on our watch here at BELAY. So let’s put it all in perspective.” You can do great work, provide great service, and also have a lot of fun doing it and relieve some of that pressure because in the day to day, sometimes work is hard and days don’t feel awesome all the time. So, if we can relieve the team and say, “Okay, for the next hour, work’s not going to be hard because we’re going to have a lip sync battle,” or whatever that is, and you’re giving them that gift to relieve that pressure and create that really positive laughter that just integrates and bleeds into the whole company.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. Well, and I think it’s really important for team members to see their leaders have fun, too, and I hate to say this, but sometimes leaders get a bad rap. We have a lot resting on us. We’re driving key metrics, we’re driving innovation, and so, there’s a lot of seriousness that goes behind what we do as leaders. There’s a lot of mouths to feed is the way that I think of it when I pray over our team. That’s a big responsibility. So often, they just see you as a very serious leader, but if you go and put on a wig and-

Tricia Sciortino:

Dress like up Elsa and Anna.

Lisa Zeeveld:

… for a lip sync battle.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes, exactly. Dress up. Then they start to really see you as a human and that you are just more than that serious leader, and there’s a deeper connection there, too. And so, I think it’s important to not just talk about these are great activities for your team, but you have to also participate in it. I like to be a little silly, but I can easily say that I am not one who likes to go very opposite of what my personal brand is. For those of you who maybe have not seen me before, I’m your pearl wearing, high heels, and pumps and flowers and to do anything that is opposite of that… I’m really good at playing a princess, but then to play somebody that’s opposite is out of my comfort zone or to play a sport, not your sporty girl, but I’m happy to get out there and play a little… Oh my gosh, we did nighttime soccer once, where we were knocking each other down, and there were some people that got hurt, but that’s good for me and it was good for my team members to see me doing that. I think that, leaders, hear me here. You’ve got to participate. You can’t sit on the sidelines.

Tricia Sciortino:

You wan to be relatable.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right.

Tricia Sciortino:

Part of it is that there’s not this line in the sand between the team and the leadership. The leadership are untouchables or they’re unapproachable, and that’s been something that I’ve tried really hard to work on is, participating in all of these things because I don’t want to be unapproachable as the CEO. I don’t want people on the team to think like, oh, she’s so serious in the corner. You can’t go talk to her. I’m the first one on the dance floor.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

I’m the first one to do a lip sync battle.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes, you are. A little Cupid Shuffle.

Tricia Sciortino:

A little wobble? I’m down, and I’ll be dragging people on the dance floor with me.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

But yeah, I think it makes everything relatable and it’s part of what creates just great fun culture, and now more than ever, people need a little injection of humor in their lives. Life feels, and can be, very serious right now, and so, being able to find those moments where you can make things less serious for a hot second is a positive thing. So, now let’s talk about, LZ, you do a great job because you run our events and you run our weekly staffing meetings. Even talking through some of the things that we do, that maybe somebody can replicate out there to inject fun into their organization, even if we are all remote.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, of course. First and foremost, you have to make it a priority within your organization and you have to tell your team that you are going to make it a priority. Just like you said, it’s one of our core values. We’re accountable to having fun. We can’t go very long without having fun because somebody is going to call us out on the carpet and be like, this is your core value, don’t see it happening. So yes, it’s very, very important to us and we try to weave it into everything, starting with weekly staff meetings. We have done things during the current season. We are in the pandemic. You think, last year when the world shut down, we were planning an in-person event as I talked to you at the beginning of this podcast. We do those a couple of times a year. We’re an all remote staff and we had really never put on an event virtually. We’ve done a lot of events in person, but we had never really put on an event virtually. It required us to get out of our comfort zone, which then became the blueprint to our weekly staff meetings.

Lisa Zeeveld:

We have done things, fun, little scavenger hunts in your home where people have to run around and things like wear a silly sweater during Christmas time, the holidays, doing that. We recognize people. We go through our core values and recognize people there. That’s some of the fun things we’ve done. We’ve also sent our team gifts, too. We had a time when the tiny hands was a big thing and we shipped out Tiny Hands to everybody.

Tricia Sciortino:

That was good, kind of of fun.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Who doesn’t want a pair of Tiny Hands? Cupcakes to the team to celebrate when we can.

Tricia Sciortino:

Jellybeans.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Jellybeans, yeah. It does not have to be something that’s going to cost you a lot of money and that we’ve learned. That’s just anything in life in general. Money is not going to buy you friends or maybe the wrong kind of friends.

Tricia Sciortino:

Or happiness. Right, yeah. Or fun, maybe.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, or happiness. Yeah. So, find frugal ways that you can add fun in. We started with our weekly staff meeting. That’s really easy for us to do. We play games also on that, and then of course, trying to get together. It’s very important even with a remote team to get together. We do that through these events, like we said. Always a team building activity. We have built rockets out of trash. We had a-

Tricia Sciortino:

Pumpkin carving contest.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Pumpkin, yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

… this last fall.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right. We also had where you had to make a clothing item out of trash bags and duct tape. So it’s just again, getting creative with your team and pairing people up that would normally not work together. That’s another key. You want someone from your finance department with your marketing department, maybe with account management. You want your leaders to participate, again, but you want to get them out of their comfort zone and out of what they’re normally doing.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah, and it’s always a great opportunity for team members that don’t normally work together or don’t normally have the opportunity to know each other because they’re in different departments or areas of the business, this is your opportunity as leaders to plan that they will get to meet people on the team, spend time with people on the team, that they may never really come in contact with. So to your point, now being very mindful of the groups you put together as you’re thinking through what can be a fun activity that you’re planning.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and too, I also want to say only because we’ve been in seasons where we were predominantly female, just because of the nature of our business and starting out within our own community but making sure that you have a variety of different activities and a variety of different games so that everybody feels welcome and feels that it’s for them. I love getting people out of their comfort zone, but you don’t want to get that one person out of their comfort zone every single time.

Tricia Sciortino:

It then becomes a stressor.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right.

Tricia Sciortino:

Where people are stressed out. Because I have heard-

Lisa Zeeveld:

Like you and heights?

Tricia Sciortino:

What is she going to make me do now? Oh no. What crazy thing is she going to make me do now?

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right, because with smaller teams, we have been able to do things offsite. An obstacle course, we’ve done zip lining, you and I have actually been called to climb a mountain before.

Tricia Sciortino:

That was the worst fun ever.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Really, if you’re a smaller team and you have the resources to do something a little bit more where there’s not so much frugality involved in that, it’s okay to get people out of their comfort zone, but eventually, make sure that you are adding in things that perhaps a team member who doesn’t enjoy so much physical activity could maybe do a painting activity, and those who are used to being physical, it will take them out of their comfort zone to go paint.

Tricia Sciortino:

Absolutely.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Paint your pottery or whatever.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. Yeah, so diversity inside the fun.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Totally. Very, very, very important.

Tricia Sciortino:

Diversify your fun plan.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Not only through your lens of what you think fun is.

Tricia Sciortino:

What do other people think was fun. Otherwise, we would be lip sync battling every time.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

Let other voices. That’s a good takeaway is, let other voices inside your organization help drive what those fun activities are. So, first you’re going to decide, okay, we are going to inject some fun into our business because we know it’s going to be healthy for our team. The team needs it. It’s great for our culture. It’s great for bonding. Highly engaged teams perform well. You really make that decision. Then you gotta be really intentional about where and how are you going to inject it? Virtually like we do on our staffing meetings, in person, and then be very diverse about the kind of fun that you have.

Speaker 4:

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Lisa Zeeveld:

This might not quantify as extremely fun, but I think it does go into the culture of conversation, and it’s, what other things can you just do to recognize employees that other organizations might not do yet? Now, I hope everybody’s listening to this podcast and that we get tons of comments that everybody’s creating this super fun place to work, but look at ways that you can just honor other team members, support other team members. We have a pay it forward program here at BELAY, which is a huge catalyst to our culture, where team members get to donate into a fund. And then we get to really bless other people through when there’s a hardship in their family. It is our frugal wow program that our leaders and team members have, so you can send a small gift to somebody to say, “Hey, thanks so much for doing a great job.” And that may include a pair of silly fun glasses or a candy bar that’s their favorite, very small things.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Sending flowers if there’s a death in the family, or we have onesies that have our company name on them, BELAY, that we send when new babies are born. Yes, it’s great to think of those big, fun, super fun things that get people out of their comfort zone that we can all do when we’re together, but sometimes it’s the little fun things that are individual to an employee that make all the difference, too. So find a way that you can incorporate those into your business and like I said, it doesn’t have to be big. It can even be just a note to say, “Hey, you did a great job today.” And here’s a 59 cent candy bar to go along with it.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes, and fun at its core, sometimes just means as the leader, the energy you show up with. Setting the tone. If I show up to a weekly staffing meeting and I’m like this … It’s not going to be fun. Bringing energy, and positivity and fun to your voice, your body language, if you’re on zoom, which we always are. That also sets the initial tone. It could be a lot of lip service and a lot of talking about integrating fun into your business, but you gotta show up and be fun.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right, yeah.

Tricia Sciortino:

Be fun to work with, bring great energy, especially when you’re working remote. It could be, I don’t know if you’ve walked in the room and listened to any of your kids on an online class lately but I walk into my daughter’s room and she’s online with her math class and it is the most unfun thing you can imagine.

Lisa Zeeveld:

It’s like Charlie Brown’s teacher …

Tricia Sciortino:

Oh, yes. And I was like, “How do you not poke your eyeballs out?” For me, it’s like, we cannot show up that way. We will not show up and be Charlie Brown’s teacher. We will show up, we will have energy, we will be motivating, we will be fun, we will be encouraging. And that brings momentum and encouragement and positivity to a team that then they get off that call and they’re ready to go tackle their week because their spirits have been boosted. They may be laughed a little bit and ready to go do the hard work.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and I think that has to be coupled with authenticity. So, don’t do these things just because Tricia just told you to do them. If you’re actually not excited-

Tricia Sciortino:

That works, too.

Lisa Zeeveld:

It does, it does, because if you’re actually not excited to be on that weekly staff meeting and you try to fake it, and then as soon as you get off the weekly staff meeting, you go back to being … Everybody’s going to know it. That may mean you need to take a little bit of inventory about your thoughts on your role and your organization and the people you’ve hired, so that you naturally come off as having great energy and being really excited for the day and excited for your team members, casting vision about the awesome opportunity that you have to touch the lives of other people, and that in of itself, like you said, is fun. I love that.

Tricia Sciortino:

Amen.

Lisa Zeeveld:

So, our final thought here today is that building a fun, energetic, authentic, happy culture is easy to do. It just takes a little thought, a little preparation, maybe a heart check every once in a while, but it’s easy to have a very fulfilled and dedicated team and one that is on fire for what your mission is.

Tricia Sciortino:

Passion.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right.

Tricia Sciortino:

Passionate about what you’re doing. Fun and vibrant, and for those of you out there thinking, I am not fun, and this is not going to work for me. Yes, you are. You are fun. Maybe you forgot who your fun is, but you need to go look inside yourself, find your fun. It’s in there. You might’ve stuffed that away because you’re too busy being serious. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Seriously. Find your fun, bring it to work with you.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and if you’re not, here’s my homework for everybody. Make a team or group of people who can tell you what is fun.

Tricia Sciortino:

There you go.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Maybe there’s a generational gap within your team members and yourself. Maybe you’re just not that fun of a person. I get you. I’m more serious too, but find a couple of people on your team, that you can say, depending upon the size of your team, if you’re a couple hundred people, obviously ratios need to be right here, but then say, “Hey, I’d like to add fun in and I don’t really know what fun is, and so, can you guys come up with the idea?” Or maybe you’re just too busy to figure out what fun is. You can still use that team to come up with ideas and pass them by you. So, homework is create some ideas around it and maybe solicit a little help to do it.

Tricia Sciortino:

Perfect.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And you know we always have a download for you guys, so in addition to the verbal homework, I have a download for you so that you can take your one next step this week. The download is 17 Building Activities for Remote Employees. We’ve rounded up some ways to engage our team and infuse some fun into your day without having to be all in the same room.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes, and we’ve become the masters of this. Text the phrase One Next Step to 31996 to get the download or visit onenextsteppodcast.com and you’ll get access to today’s resources to help you keep moving forward. Thank you for joining us. We hope today’s episode has encouraged you to have more fun at work and to infuse fun into your company culture. Until next time, own your journey. It’s your life and your business. It’s up to you to create the life and organization you want. Join us next week for more practical tips and actionable tools to advance your business one step at a time.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Start by making today count.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for listening to One Next Step. Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcasts or follow us on Spotify. Then join us next time for more practical business tips and tools to help you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence. For more episodes, show notes, and helpful resources, visit onenextsteppodcast.com.

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