By: Jessica Thiefels
Small Business Freelancer, Content Marketing and Strategy Consultant
Office workshops break up the day, boost employee loyalty, and reduce turnover because they communicate the message that each individual contributor is more than a number. The key is in choosing the right workshops; the less they feel like a chore for employees, the more effective they’ll be. According to management training and leadership experts at Mind Tools, ineffective workshops can bring more problems than they actually solve: “Done wrong, they can be a huge waste of time and money. However, if they’re planned well, they can be incredibly valuable for everyone involved. Workshops are great for brainstorming, interactive learning, building relationships, and problem solving,”
Consider the following five workshop ideas and how they might fit with your company culture. Choose a few to sprinkle into the company calendar, adding variety and fun to the usual brainstorming sessions and project-focused meetings.
Lunch and Learn Workshop
Choose a day each month when all the members of your department converge for an hour to “network” internally. Cater lunch from a local restaurant or ask everyone to bring a potluck dish to make it more of a special event. Each month, one team or employee will share an important project they’re working on. The rest of the team can then provide constructive feedback and fresh ideas.
This open dialogue strengthens both the sense of camaraderie and level of collaboration between teams. It’s easy to operate in a siloed organization, but that’s not good for business, or your employees. Use your monthly “Lunch and Learn” to remind employees that their co-workers are valuable resources that they can and should turn to.
Not all workshops need to be work related—in fact, to keep employees interested, it’s better if some aren’t. Workshops such as this one for self-defense show employees that you care about their well being, both in and out of the office:
“For companies who care about their employees, especially those whose employees regularly walk to their cars at night or alone, it would behoove employers to offer self-defense training courses for workers,” says Jeremy Pollack, self defense expert for Home Security Super Store.
The most important part of this workshop is choosing the correct instructor. Pollack suggests the following tips for vetting:
- Does the instructor have videos you can look at?
- Has an HR rep or a referring party been to an actual class and seen what the instructor has to offer?
- How realistic is the instructor’s self-defense style, and how much real-world training and application does the instructor have?
- Does he or she fit with the culture of your workplace?
Vision Board Workshop
Transform a conference room into a creative space for employees to make their own vision boards. Vision boards are a visual representation of how you want to feel or something you want to accomplish – a way to bring things inside you to life. Giving your employees the opportunity to create their own vision boards is an exercise in abstract thinking and serves as a way to help them explore avenues and inspiration for personal growth, both within the organization and as individuals.
A few key materials for this includes:
- White boards and markers
- Sticky notes
Host this workshop each month, allowing a maximum of five participants each time. At the end of the workshop, have the participants share their favorite piece of the completed vision board with fellow employees. This should be inspirational and eye opening for everyone, even employees who didn’t participate that month.
Take it up a notch by inviting a life coach into the office. The five participants can talk with the life coach for 30 minutes as a group to start thinking creatively about their profession and growth. They can use this conversation to spur their ideas.
Research conducted at the University of California Berkeley has found that practicing moment-to-moment awareness can reinforce an employees’ confidence, satisfaction, focus and productivity. Help them funnel these positives into their job performance by offering mindfulness workshops.
A few mindfulness workshops you can host include:
- Meditation, guided with a focus on productivity
- Yoga for reduced stress
- Awareness and relaxation training
- Work-life balance training
If employees love this workshop, you could make meditation and mindfulness a daily part of their routine. For example, schedule one conference room as “open” from 8-10am for quiet meditation every morning. People can choose to use it as they desire, boosting efficiency and well-being at the same time.
Financial Tools Workshop
Facilitating a money management seminar will help your employees understand the nuances of investment, budgeting, diversification and other financial concepts. Equipping people with the knowledge and resources to allocate their income wisely is both a source of empowerment for them and a reflection of your leadership expertise and concern for their overall well-being.
According to experts at Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, “Companies providing financial education show improvement in the workplace including increased productivity, employee morale, and company loyalty and decreased healthcare costs, absenteeism, turnover, workplace distractions, and operational risk across the company.”
As the Jumpstart experts explain, a workshop like this is also beneficial to your bottom line, “Financial education programs have the effect of contributing to the company’s bottom line between $3 and $4 for every dollar spent.”
Financial workshop ideas include:
- Financial tracking: Creating and maintaining a budget; setting goals.
- Smart investing: How and where to invest; how to get the most for your money.
- Credit cards: Smart use of credit; best ways to maintain good credit; what to look for in credit card rewards.
- Retirement: How to prepare; what the company does to help; different types of accounts, along with benefits and drawbacks of each.
Regardless of your business’ overall size or scope, company growth is dependent on an engaged, cohesive and dynamic workforce. Therefore, offering workshops that benefit your employees, both professionally and personally, can mean the difference between attracting and maintaining top-tier talent versus mediocre space-fillers. Make your team feel appreciated, and their performance will speak for itself.
Are you looking for more ideas on how to improve your office culture? Check out my blog post 5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture.
About Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more small business tips and ideas.