Is It Friday Yet? Maintaining A Positive, Motivational and Fun Work Environment

It’s not Friday yet, but I am looking forward to the obnoxious Hawaiian shirts some of my coworkers wear as part of our Engineering Department’s unofficial Hawaiian Shirt Day each week. It’s a little thing, but it definitely helps lighten the mood and gives us all an opportunity to interact with each other.

Members of our Engineering Dept. on Friday’s Hawaiian Shirt Day.

Since the economy went south, many companies and engineering firms have had to trim costs wherever they can to survive. Fancy holiday parties turned into potlucks in the break room, the softball team lost its sponsorship, and my personal favorite, plastic sporks in the lunch room to reduce the cost of forks and spoons. Have you ever tried to eat soup with a spork?

After reminiscing a bit on some of the past activities that may never return, I started thinking about all of the simple, inexpensive things we can do as individuals (and as companies) to improve our mental and physical health. I mused on the difficulties of fitting in a vacation in a previous post, but how many of you find it hard to get away from your desk even for a lunch break? Take that time to do something good for yourself. Go to the gym, ride your bike, take a walk, organize a yoga group, join a pick-up soccer game, or a battle of full-contact ping pong. For example, in honor of the Summer Olympic Games, Simpson Strong-Tie hosted our own “Summer Olympics”.

Members of the Engineering Dept. compete in our “Summer Olympics”.

Doesn’t the photo above look uncannily like these?

How about getting a group together to volunteer at a local charity? It can be so rewarding to pound a few nails at a Habitat for Humanity build, sort food at a food bank, or brighten the day of a needy animal at your local shelter. Organize teams for a scavenger hunt through the office. Start Smoothie Thursday.

For managers, the lowest cost motivational boost might come from an acknowledgement of your employees’ hard work with a simple, “Thank you, you’re doing a great job and I really appreciate all of your hard work.”

I came across a list of “Rambling Thoughts” written by our founder Barclay Simpson in 1974. The first and last thoughts on the list seem appropriate here:

1. ATTITUDE CONQUERS ALL!

When fate bludgeons us, and friends and fortune appear to desert us, keep one option always open – your attitude.

16.  Keep it light. It really isn’t that important.

What are some of the things you or your company do to help foster a positive attitude, maintain your motivation and sanity, and help get through the week to Friday Hawaiian Shirt Day? Let me know by posting a comment!

– Paul

Paul McEntee

Author: Paul McEntee

A couple of years back we hosted a “Take your daughter or son to work day,” which was a great opportunity for our children to find out what their parents did. We had different activities for the kids to learn about careers and the importance of education in opening up career opportunities. People often ask me what I do for Simpson Strong-Tie and I sometimes laugh about how my son Ryan responded to a questionnaire he filled out that day:

Q.   What is your mom/dad's job?
A.   Goes and gets coffee and sits at his desk

Q.   What does your mom/dad actually do at work?
A.   Walks in the test lab and checks things

When I am not checking things in the lab or sitting at my desk drinking coffee, I manage Engineering Research and Development for Simpson Strong-Tie, focusing on new product development for connectors and lateral systems.

I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and I am a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer in California. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, I worked for 10 years as a consulting structural engineer designing commercial, industrial, multi-family, mixed-use and retail projects. I was fortunate in those years to work at a great engineering firm that did a lot of everything. This allowed me to gain experience designing with wood, structural steel, concrete, concrete block and cold-formed steel as well as working on many seismic retrofits of historic unreinforced masonry buildings.