Go for Gold: 3 Ways to Actually Boost Productivity During the Olympic Games

August 5, 2016

Category: Culture

As the 2016 Rio Olympic Games kick off in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, viewers worldwide will be tuning in to watch their favorite teams compete for gold. It’s estimated that 3.6 billion people will be watching, including 72 percent of business professionals. (No pressure, athletes.)

Summer months already see a decline in productivity, with more workers taking off in July and August than other months throughout the year. Add the spectacle of the Olympic Games into the mix andlet’s just say there’s plenty to distract a workforce this season.

Rather than fight it, employers can set a new gold standard by encouraging employees to celebrate the games and creating opportunities to foster strong culture. According to the Workplace Research Foundation, highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity, and increasing employee engagement investments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year.

So, ready to earn that gold medal from your team? Here’s three ways to welcome the Olympic spirit into your workplace and boost employee engagement. Let the games begin!

Host In-Office Olympic Viewing Parties

“Employees will find a way [to watch], especially with mobile devices,” observes Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, founder of Blogging4Jobs. Rather than prohibit your team from watching during work hours, seize the opportunity to bring employees together around their favorite sports.

“I would recommend having employees voting on events that they want streamed from the office, to help create some boundaries and begin the conversation around what’s appropriate and what is not for employees,” says Miller-Merrell.

By soliciting employee input on the events streamed in office, you not only show them you care about their opinions, but also create opportunities for team bonding. Employees may uncover common sports interests with coworkers, and carry those shared interests forward even after the Olympics end, further cementing team bonds. 

As Miller-Merrell points out, this also gives you the chance to communicate clearly how and when the office will support the viewing of the Games so there’s no confusion with employees.

Create Your Own Office Olympics

For many companies, the Olympics pose the perfect time to host healthy competitions amongst your team. Through teamwork and a focus on building relationships with one another, you can inspire members to achieve goals together, then translate that same focus and collaboration into their day-to-day work.

The possibilities are many, but here’s a few ideas for how your Office Olympic Games could go down:

  • Encourage employees to select teammates, ideally ones they don’t already know to facilitate new connections and the spread of new ideas.
  • Have each team choose a favorite country to represent in your office games.
    • Invite them to dress in their country’s colorsor if you want to take things to the next level, give each team a small allowance to decorate a space in the office to represent their respective country. Don’t forget to host your own Opening Ceremony to celebrate the uniqueness each team brings to the games.
  • Design physical, skill-based, and critical thinking challenges as part of your Office Olympics events.
    • Physical challenges should include team-based events, such as desk chair soccer or a relay race, to encourage collaboration amongst teammates. Other ideas might include a team jumping jacks challenge, a ping-pong tournament, trash can basketball or a synchronized chair dance competition.
    • Skills-based challenges are where your employees can showcase their impressive talents. Give teams a mini-project to complete, and a time limit to complete it. This can be based on your business, or something completely distinct from your day-to-day. For example, host a “hackathon” or design challenge and give teams a day to create a new application, feature or tool that helps achieve a goal. Other ideas might include a speed typing challenge, or a pitch competition where competitors have to demonstrate their superior selling skills hawking ordinary office supplies, like pencils and Post-Its. 
    • Critical thinking challenges are for those teams that want to harness the collective brain power within an organization. One creative way to do so is with Olympics-themed trivia, where contestants have to answer historic as well as present-day athlete and team trivia questions. Alternatively, you may choose to give teams Olympic-themed puzzles to solve.
  • Celebrate good sportsmanship and winning teams with desk trophies or medals. Throughout the year, employees can keep these at their workspaces and be reminded of the fun times had during your spirited Office Olympic Games.

And of course—don’t forget to snap a few pictures and videos of your team taking part! Sharing these out on social media and on your company’s website can be a great way to showcase your vibrant culture to prospective employees.

Encourage Healthy, Active Lifestyles Through Team Sports

With the celebration of sport at an all-time high during the Olympic Games, there’s no better time to start that new company sports team. Invite participation from your employees by surveying them on what sports they enjoy playing the most, and what days of the week they’d enjoy playing on a team with coworkers. Then, start a team or two! By encouraging team sports, you help employees get the routine exercise they need—the benefits of which have been proven to decrease stress, increase productivity and reduce employee absenteeism—and also create an environment where they feel supported by teammates.

The Olympic Games only take place every two years. Embrace these rare moments and celebrate the opportunity they bring to strengthen your culture.

Have more ideas to drive employee engagement during the Olympic Games? Share in the comments below!


Deanna is the Director of Content Marketing at Zenefits, where she enjoys bringing our mission to 'make entrepreneurship easier' to life through programs that champion the voice of small businesses and empower them to thrive in today's economy.

Category: Culture

You might also like