Leisureology Ideas To Sustain Your Team ‘Til Spring

Written by Paul Marchildon, on December 9, 2014.

Leisureology Ideas

Something curious has been happening. I’ve been writing “All work and no play makes Paul a dull boy,” obsessively. And on a typewriter, of all things. I see the word “redrum” all over the place. Then I realize: It’s only December. If I’m coming down with cabin fever now, what will early March look like?

Time for a change! Your employees could probably use one too. How can you reinvigorate them – and yourself – during the (long, oh so long!) winter months? And why should you?

Leisureology: Making Winter Bearable Since Whenever I Invented That Term

When you think of leisure in the workplace, you think Friday afternoons, right? Wrong! If you introduce leisure activities on a Friday, here’s what I would think: “Totally optional. I’m gonna start my weekend early.” (And I’m a leisureologist: I love work!) Don’t wait: you want people to be engaged. When do they need a renewal of energy more than ever? Hump Day!.

This is prime time for team-building and camaraderie; it’s a reward for making it through Monday and Tuesday, and an incentive to make it through Thursday and Friday! There is any number of activities that you can incorporate on or offsite:

Off on a Magical Mystery Tour

Taking a day off to ski or skate sounds good, but not everyone enjoys frigid temperatures and having their faces go numb. I personally don’t understand, but there you have it. You need to think of activities that are more inclusive.

One of the things I do with my kids (to trick them into getting exercise and fresh air) is a “Magical Mystery Tour.” I pre-plan an outing, but keep the journey a secret. It’s just an hour, so if folks bundle up, everyone will be warm and happy – and engaged and motivated.

So create (or have team members do it) a one-hour walking course, complete with historical facts and trivia of the area. The first stop: your favourite café for a mint hot chocolate to fortify you for the trek. Then you can tour by a few spots that are enjoyable to see, talk about, and experience together: local curiosity shops; new boutiques, historical or local landmarks. (It’s also a great way to show new hires the lay of the land, and of the people with whom they’ll be working, anytime of year.)

Have someone bring in their dog, and everyone can take turns walking Fido. Whatever you do, personalize the experience for your team members, making it meaningful and fun. (And at the same time – how thrifty is this? Leisureology is possible on any budget!)

Indoor Activities to Spice Things Up

Want to engage employees in the winter? Two words: acorn squash. I won’t say anything else because then I’ll give away the secret to amazing, prize-winning chili – and that’s my prize. How about a chili cook-off? It’s competitive, and, if you do it in the morning, you can add a group lunch to the fun or even invite other teams for some cross-pollination.

Have people bring in their slow-cookers and secret ingredients. Almost every culture has a variation on chili, and vegetarians and vegans can participate – deliciously – as well. You really cannot go wrong incorporating food, and this is another way to organically celebrate diversity in the workplace.

You could also try a hot chocolate bar every other week or so. The Froth Cafe in my hometown steams their own milk (soy or rice for the lactose-intolerant… again, diversity), and you choose a chocolate bar to put in. When it melts: the most unbelievable hot chocolate ever. Again, I’m revealing my secret, hoping you’ll use it to motivate employees: Aero Mint Bar. Trust me.

All Fun and No Work – Loses the Company Profits?

Absolutely not. Initiatives like this do not detract from work. In fact, they only boost productivity by engaging employees, who will be recharged and refreshed for projects, client meetings, presentations, and more. At the same time, they help solidify your corporate culture, celebrate diversity, bring people together, and squeeze a little fitness in.

You’d be surprised at how much business occurs during a simple walk. People are free to voice their thoughts, and they are in the headspace to hear different opinions. New ideas are born; new alliances forged. Isn’t this what companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing in “corporate retreats”? All for the cost of some hot chocolate.

The Practicality of Leisure

Taking 100 employees out for a walk can be chaotic, and while whole-company activities can be beneficial, what we’re talking about here is shorter, more frequent group activities. An hour here and there this is an effective way to introduce leisureology gradually, and quite inexpensively, into the workplace.

Why bother with a walk, a bowl of chili, or any other afternoon activity? Because you have to! Today’s companies face pressure from all directions. Your people are stretched to their limits, and the center will not hold. Not unless you do something to relieve that pressure: leisure. All work and no play… well; we know how that turned out! Try something new: all work and all play. It makes employees happy, healthy, and productive.

Paul Marchildon

Paul Marchildon

A self-proclaimed Leisureologist and Motivational Speaker, Paul Marchildon applies his vast expertise in human engagement to help leaders create more productive, effective organizations. Building on an influential career as a pioneer in employee incentive and loyalty programs, strategic creative communications, social media and mobile marketing, Paul provides insight into the advantages of incorporating a leisure culture in the "work" place. He is past president of Society of Incentive and Travel Executives’ (Site) Canadian Chapter and founder of Atlantis Creative Group (now part of Maritz Canada). He is one of a select group of Canadians who have received the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation.