23 Oct 2015

3 reasons why you should celebrate a festival at work (The number one being Employee Engagement)

It’s really obvious and yet most don’t take the opportunity to the hilt. We have to start with the premise that a workplace is a microcosm of the culture of the country. However global the culture of an organization, at heart the DNA of its people is local. And this must be not only recognized but acknowledged and cherished.

I recently did a series of blog posts on my personal space (link) on the famous Navratri festival – nine nights of celebration and colour. What happens in the festival – besides the worship of nine forms of the Divine Goddess – is that most devotees (AKA women) dress up in their finery but always in a particular colour that has been designated in advance.

For some reason, thanks to the Internet, this colour code is distributed through the chat vehicles (read that as Whatsapp) and you see a sea of colour wherever you encounter a large crowd.ring_of_flowers

I took this opportunity to follow the colour coding. But it was only on the third or fourth day and of course through my blog and responses on Facebook that I realized how ‘dedicated’ the women (and the men!) were about following the colour code. And I thought, it was a great thing if someone used this to create some employee-related activities around it. So here are three reasons why using a social celebration to create an internal communications or employee engagement.

Great opportunity for employee engagement

In India festivals are more social than religious. Yes they are religious too but you don’t celebrate these alone. Most festivals involve a gathering of friends and family, an exchange of greetings and gifts, a plan to go out for lunch or dinner.  Workplaces too are social and most teams that work together also operate as extended families – again a concept and behaviour largely representative of Indian culture. Which means, paradoxically celebrating a festival together becomes more secular than ever.

Great opportunity for morale boosting

If this involved an employee engagement activity – like a contest on colour coordination, photography, it would get the employees even more engaged. This could have brought together a new festive spirit at work. And this is true of any festival – take the conceptual part of it and make it something that employees can come together and contribute to. It makes both the participants as well as the onlookers valued – as it’s something that recognizes them as individuals.
Contests with small prizes and certificates, recognition from peers and seniors – all become morale boosting for the employee.

Great opportunity for bonding

On the second day of the festival the colour was yellow. I walked into the cafeteria to find myself in a sea of yellows. Sunshine yellow. Sunflower yellow. Yellow dress. Yellow kurta.  Yellow T-shirt. Even a yellow shrug! Bright, gaudy, dull, orangish – you looked  around and you saw a shade of yellow! Then you saw groups of people taking selfies – or groupies – (whatever they are called) the Ellen DeGeneres way).  Much laughter and giggling ensued during lunch in the cafeteria and I know the teams went back sufficiently bonded after having jammed their social media timelines with yellow posts! Bonding with the festive glue of colour!  So save up on all those team-building events! You cannot have a better idea than a festive to get the team all gearing up together to become a well-bonded unit that just gives you its most productive time ever.

So let’s celebrate our festivals – and together with that let’s celebrate every individual in the organization.

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