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What creative companies are doing to boost productivity—in and out of the office

Team-building bowling, travel perks, and Taco Tuesdays are just some of the ways innovative businesses are helping their employees strike a winning work-life balance.

What creative companies are doing to boost productivity—in and out of the office

Colie Edison is seeing an uptick in a certain type of customer at Bowlero: the business professional. The leading bowling entertainment company has more than 300 locations around the U.S., and in recent years has been welcoming more business clients to bowl on its lanes, play in its arcades and relax over upscale food and beverages. One reason, says Edison, is that companies are taking a more proactive approach to helping employees connect with the companies they work for—and the co-workers they work with. “Companies across the board are trying to drive engagement among their workforces because they know that engaged employees tend to be happier and more productive,” she says. “That’s why there’s been so much of a demand in recent years for events at our centers.”

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These efforts to drive engagement may be a response to companies’ increasing awareness about the true cost of employee burnout. It used to be that super-human, can-do employees working 70-hour weeks were held up as paragons of industriousness. These days, however, research shows that employee burnout is real—and can be damaging. According to Gallup, burned-out workers are 63% more likely to take a sick day, 13% less confident in their performance and 2.6 times as likely to be hunting for a new job.

As a result, companies are devoting more resources to helping employees strike a healthier work-life balance. They’re rolling out perks such as flexible work hours and additional vacation time to give employees more latitude about when they work and when they don’t work. It’s also meant rethinking what work actually looks like—and where it needs to happen. The trend toward flexible work suggests that companies understand its employees don’t have to be sitting in a cubicle to be productive.

THINKING BEYOND THE CUBICLE

Say you’re scheduling a weekly staff meeting for your 10-person team. One option is to hold the meeting in the stuffy conference room you always use. Or, you can spice up the 9-to-5 day with a more creative choice—like an outdoor meeting or even a bowling happy hour. The more creative choice may pay dividends by keeping employees engaged and reducing burnout. What’s more, getting out of the regular office routine can help build stronger ties among your team. “Work isn’t just about the work you do alone,” says Kayla Hammersmith, senior content marketing manager with DialogTech, a Chicago-based marketing analytics company. “It’s about building a strong team that feels cohesive. And company events are key to that.”

In fact, one recent study commissioned by Bowlero found that such everyday interactions between colleagues were the key to workplace happiness. According to the survey, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they would take a pay cut to get the perfect work environment and 41 percent have even left jobs when they didn’t enjoy the workplace culture.

You’re not standing around a bar or sitting at a restaurant, trying to make small talk with your colleagues. You’re doing something active.

The connection between playing together and working together is something that Bowlero’s Edison works to support at each of the company’s locations. She sees a similar outcome when businesses book events at their venues. “This is not your typical corporate event,” Edison says. “You’re not standing around a bar or sitting at a restaurant, trying to make small talk with your colleagues. You’re doing something active. You’re bowling. You’re playing video games. You’re devising a strategy to beat the accounting team in laser tag.”

DialogTech sponsors several bowling teams that compete in local leagues. The teams are diverse, made up of employees from different departments and at different rungs in the corporate ladder. DialogTech’s talent-acquisition manager Mara Romanelli says the teams help foster relationships between employees who likely wouldn’t cross paths during a normal workday. What’s more, she says, these teams can help get new additions to bring the team up to speed. “It’s a great way for new employees to get to know their coworkers and bond over food, drinks, and friendly rivalries,” Romanelli says.

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TACOS AND TEAM BUILDING

Every company is different. What helps bond employees at one firm may not work at another. That’s why companies should continuously experiment with creative ways to keep employees happy, balanced, and burnout-free. It could be DialogTech’s competitive intra-team bowling or a Taco Tuesday event that lets employees bond over lunch in the middle of a busy day. Or perhaps it’s a more formal professional-development workshop that recharges employees and gets them excited to tackle new projects. The key is to create opportunities to help employees build stronger ties with one another.

At Yonomi, a company that develops cloud-based technologies for smart home devices, employees are encouraged to jet between the company’s dual headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, and Austin, Texas. Yonomi picks up the tab for all travel costs, and employees don’t need permission to hop from one office to the other. The point, says Kent Dickson, the company’s co-founder and CEO, is to keep employees engaged, together, and, well, happy. “We think that people spending time together in and out of the office is really important for happiness, and for being able to commit to one another,” he says.

From holiday parties to client outings, Bowlero’s retro-inspired venues are guaranteed to entertain and impress. To learn more, click here.

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