Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
Oliver Burkeman, self-described “curmudgeon” and author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, took to The New York Times today to pen a sharp critique of the notion of workplace fun (“Who Goes to Work to Have Fun?”).
Mr. Burkeman notes (correctly) that phony optimism and imposed employee exuberance are superficial at best, and downright detrimental to workplace happiness and productivity at worst. He recommends that rather than try to create an environment of fake cheer to mask workplace misery, companies to instead give their employees autonomy, and treat them fairly.
While his overall premise might be on point, tt would appear that Mr. Burkeman has spent too much time at his computer sifting through research studies, and not enough time with actual employees in the workplace.
As the owner of a corporate entertainment and team building company in New York City, I spend a good deal of my time “in the trenches” with knowledge workers of all stripes and managerial levels. From this unique perch which truly allows me to be a “fly on the wall” at everything from staff motivation events to holiday parties, I can say with absolute confidence that people desperately want to have fun at the office, and have a more fun, engaging work relationship with co-workers.
While Mr. Burkeman is correct that you cannot force miserable people to be happy just by declaring “Crazy Hat Day” or throwing them a fete, what he fails to recognize is that rank-and-file employees and bosses alike who get up and go to work each day want more than just The Grind and a paycheck; they want to feel important, feel valued, and enjoy their waking hours as well. You can’t take a handful of superficial gimmicks such as quirky titles and silly posters and hold them up in The Times as prime examples of what companies are doing to make workplaces “fun” – instead, take a look at the innovative hiring and team building approaches companies such as Shake Shack employ to create workplaces in which employees are genuinely happy, and actually have fun at work.
As a fierce defender of making workplaces more fun, I am absolutely convinced that enjoyable workplaces make for happier employees, who in turn produce better, higher-quality results – and loyal customers.
From his office – which is no doubt cold, dimly lit and full of gargoyles – Mr. Burkeman is clearly enjoying his work. Why can’t the rest of us?
This past week, TrivWorks had the honor of producing a series of trivia team building events for NYC staff of Shake Shack, the burger stand arm of legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). Over the course of two days, we produced a series of events for New York City-area Shake Shack managers, each event customized for the specific group in attendance.
The events were a tremendous success, and I am proud to say that we met and exceeded our stated employee team building goals – however, what really blew me away about this experience was how great of a team Shake Shack already has in place!
The first time I’d heard about Danny Meyer & USHG was back in grad school at NYU, while earning a master’s in Music & Entertainment Business. As part of our Managing Organizational Behavior class, someone from Union Square Café came by to give us a talk about employee motivation & retention. As a “foodie,” I of course knew the eatery as one of New York’s “best restaurants,” which was particularly famous for their customer service. Until then, I’d always assumed that the best way to keep staff happy and treating customers well was to empower them, and pay them a lot; how naïve I was! (I have since met plenty of highly-paid employees with decision making power who are completely miserable at work – as I’m sure you do, too).
That’s why I was so stunned to hear that Union Square Café – in fact all of USHG’s restaurants – have an unusually high employee retention rate. Surely they can’t be paying restaurant staff a fortune – what, then, was the secret to employee happiness and retention?
The secret, it turns out, is in the hiring process.
Unlike most companies, USHG doesn’t have standard interview questions or set criteria for positions; rather, they hire based on intuition: is this a person I’d like to work with every day? Do I trust this person to do their job well, and to reflect well upon both me and the brand? Will he/she work well with our other team members, and not be a bad hire?
It is through this unusually subjective hiring processes that USHG brings new staff on board, to work as part of their high-functioning teams – the results of which were on full display at our Shake Shack teambuilding events. I’ve produced over 500 trivia events, and rarely have I ever seen groups so cohesive, so caring and so genuinely happy to be in the company of their colleagues as I did this week; our events weren’t team building activities so much as team reinforcing ones, helping to make already strong work relationships even stronger.
If you want to know what building a great team looks like, look no further than Shake Shack, USHG and the incredible example Danny Meyer & his visionary team have set.
(Image courtesy of CNNMoney)
[UPDATE 12/11/13, 11:15am: Shake Shack surprised us this morning with the following thank-you card, which they published on their Facebook page as well as Tweeted out! So thrilled to see, and looking forward to our next event with this great group]
— SHAKE SHACK (@shakeshack) December 11, 2013
This Saturday, December 7th we invite you to attend a very special fund raiser to benefit victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines last month. Brooklyn’s King Killer Studios is hosting the event, which will feature a tremendous amount of live entertainment including bands, burlesque and more, with 100% of proceeds going to V-Day’s V-fund for affected communities through the women’s mission, Gabriela - the largest grassroots based women’s alliance in the Philippines.
Providing direct services and women’s rights advocacy, donations made to Gabriela through the event will be matched, helping to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical and health needs, as well as psychological support for women and children affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.
As part of a raffle being held throughout the event, TrivWorks is honored to donate a pair of tickets to the first Pat Kiernan trivia night of 2014, which shall be held at The Bell House (date TBD).
As a professional trivia company in NYC, TrivWorks primarily produces corporate event entertainment, employee team building activities & holiday parties for private groups – however, for over two years now we have also had the honor of producing the largest public trivia nights in New York City, regularly bringing upwards of 300 people to The Bell House in Brooklyn for an incredibly unique, fun & high-energy evening of competitive team trivia!
These events include several trivia nights a year hosted by Pat Kiernan, NY1 morning news anchor and TrivWorks “Special Host”, as well as an incredible new trivia night series in collaboration with Gothamist. We also hold special one-off events such as our “Golden Girls vs. Designing Women” trivia showdown, and a handful of smaller free events as well (like our upcoming Beatles-themed trivia night on Sunday, December 8th). All told, in 2013 we welcomed over 1,500 people to public TrivWorks events at The Bell House!
With this year’s public events series winding down, it’s now time to reflect on how we did. While our hosts, staff and I always recap each event in detail, the only way we can truly meet and exceed the expectations of NYC’s trivia night lovers who attend these special evenings is to solicit feedback directly from you. One such blogger attended our most recent Pat Kiernan event earlier this month, and provided some great feedback for how we might make our events run even more smoothly & efficiently – thus making them more enjoyable and memorable for attendees.
Now, it’s your turn!
Did you attend a TrivWorks event this past year? If so, we’d like to solicit your feedback – what went well, what could have been done differently, and what you would like to see in the future. We are fully committed to providing the most enjoyable public trivia experience in all of New York City, and are seeking candid feedback from those who have attended our events to help make for an even better year of events in 2014!
There’s a great article in the New York Times today, chronicling a highly unique and creative means of using live trivia to market a brand – in this case, fellow professional NYC trivia company TriviaNYC and the American version of GSN’s hit TV game show The Chase.
Earlier this month, The Chase’s host Mark Labbett (aka “The Beast”), a trivia expert and pub quiz enthusiast in his home country of Great Britain, made his first-ever visit to New York City in order to help promote the show. Sensing a unique opportunity to engage directly with both core enthusiasts and potential new enthusiasts of The Chase – as well as generate some great media exposure – both Mr. Labbett and Times reporter Neil Genzlinger embedded themselves into TriviaNYC pub quiz teams at several bars throughout the city (including our former pub quiz venue Social Bar & Lounge).
The result is a really fun article and slideshow of “The Beast’s” experience playing trivia in TriviaNYC’s bars – not to mention additional exposure via social media, and even a shout-out this morning on NY1 by fellow game show & trivia event host Pat Kiernan in his popular “In the Papers” segment!
A big congratulations to TriviaNYC, GSN & The Chase on a truly creative and original means of brand promotion & engagement!
(Photo by Karsten Moran for The New York Times)
**Update [4:45pm] A previous version of this post failed to mention that the events featured in the NYT article were produced/hosted by TriviaNYC. This omission unintentionally misrepresented the events as having been produced/hosted by TrivWorks, which is not the case. We have apologize to TriviaNYC, The Chase and Mr. Labbett for this omission, and have revised this post accordingly