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Everyone makes choices. How do you respond, when I say: Don’t eat things out of a can. Don’t eat things out of a box. Eat dark-skinned berries and an apple a day. Floss daily, relax more, make time for spiritual- and community-based activities.

There are things that are just common sense. Other things we need to learn, develop disciplines.

This applies to business. I can tell people what to do, or I can guide them to make choices on their own.

Payday HCM used to have a little charcoal grill in the backyard, and I would barbecue once or twice each year. A few people would help out, and I would grill hamburgers, or chicken breasts.

Each time we barbecued morale would go up so we decided to up our game from biannual barbecues, to monthly. Each department was tasked with selecting a theme; it then became their responsibility to prepare the meal for the rest of the company. Insurance, operations, sales, staffing, HR — no department was spared. We rotated each department and assigned a budget; the department would plan the meal, shop and try to keep it on the healthy side. They would prepare the meal for everyone, too.

It helped that Payday HCM bought itself a holiday gift last year: a really big butane grill that cooks for 50 people at a time. That’s fast!

Left to their own devices staff have provided wonderfully themed meals, such as tropical/Hawaiian, fine dining, surf and turf, grass-fed hamburger, and New Orleans. We noticed some competition around theme choices so, for our next go around, when all the departments have finished the first round, we will circle back again. This time, however, we will have pre-set themes; each team will pull a theme out of the hat. At year’s end, when we’ve gone through another complete cycle, we will hand out a prize for the best barbecue of the year.

It brings the team together as they work in unison on a project that’s not business related. It helps that everyone likes food, and eating together. It also supports team building and, frankly, it’s fun.

There are bragging rights around who came up with the best barbecue, creativity, and taste. It supports individual creativity; many people make theme-related side dishes or desserts they want to show off. It’s engaging, friendly, good-spirited…and it’s fun.

Employees can show off their skills, especially if those skills don’t necessarily surface during an average 8-5 day job. People bring side dishes and baked goods with the goal of winning everyone over. It puts all employees in alternative leadership roles by demonstrating their initiative and project management abilities.

On the human side of business, it’s a fact: having friends and having fun at work is one of the key components of job satisfaction.

When managing business, if we can construct situations in which people take pride in what they do at work, and begin to “reverse osmosis” what they learn at work into their personal lives, we will have generated loyalty and commitment to lifelong learning.

Andrew Siegel

Andrew Siegel

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