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We are planning to have an event of "Dumb Charades" in the office. I want a lot of people to attend the event. Promotions are being done using mailers and posters, but I hardly see any kind of response from employees.

This is causing problems as it doesn't seem employees will participate. What can I do to encourage employees to participate?

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Is it during work hours or after work? Are they getting paid during the game or will have to take vacation hours to participate? –  mhoran_psprep Jan 21 at 12:41
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Read Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh. His company, Zappos, is a paradigm of employee participation and goofy activities. –  itcouldevenbeaboat Jan 21 at 14:32
    
Hi Jinxed, welcome to the Workplace. I edited your question slightly to make it a bit more on topic and less of a poll (questions which are effectively polls are not really on topic). Feel free to edit if this changes your intent too much and welcome! –  enderland Jan 21 at 14:36
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What is the underlying point here? Did you just come into work and think "let's have a game of Dumb Charades", or is there a reason behind it? Why did you pick that game as opposed to any other? Because if it's just that you fancy a game of Dumb Charades, maybe you've hit your limits of people who want to play that particular game. –  DJClayworth Jan 21 at 18:05
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What's the driving force for organising these things every month? If this is a manager's idea of morale boosting then having to go to a different event each month will quickly become tiresome no matter how inventive the organisers are. Far better to fix the actual drain on morale. –  RobM Jan 22 at 8:33
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closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, CMW, Paul Brown, jcmeloni, RhysW Jan 22 at 13:09

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6 Answers

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How is the game being positioned to the employees? If they're being asked to participate unpaid, after hours; or they cannot see the value of the games then you will always have a struggle to convince people to attend.

Is the aim of the game to boost morale or to improve teamwork? If it's the latter then you can mandate attendance to some degree (though if it's being done in someone's own time, don't expect mandating attendance to win you many friends). If it's the former then you need to proceed more carefully and accept that some people simply are not interested. It's much easier for a 'forced' attempt to build morale to fail than it is for one to succeed.

If you want people to attend then make it optional but add incentives to attend and to participate. Prizes of some kind - maybe Amazon vouchers or lunch for the winning team, or suchlike?

I'd also agree with Joe's comments about getting buy-in from senior management. If people know that the CEO will be taking part as another participant, not as just the quiz host / master of ceremonies then they might feel more encourage to relax and take part.

Funnily enough, I stumbled upon an article today that talked about team building exercises and 'games' in the workplace which I found interesting. I think the whole article and the comments there are well worth a read in the context of this question, but the 'rules' at the end are worth quoting here I think:

So if you’re planning a team-building event for your office, how can you avoid having it become an event that people dread and complain about? These tips will help:

  • Don’t choose activities that might violate people’s dignity, privacy, or personal space. Something you might enjoy with close friends isn’t always appropriate for the workplace.

  • Realize that what’s fun for some people is miserable for others. This especially includes athletic activities and public performances.

  • A top complaint about team-building exercises is that they have no bearing on how people spend their time the other 364 days of the year, so ask yourself whether the activity really relates to the work people are there to do.
  • If the team-building is meant to fix a communication or morale problem, it’s probably not the right solution. Those issues require management to step in and take action.
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I looked this up, and as I expected: "Dumb Charades is a version of the regular game of Charades. The actions are sillier and funnier."

Apart from the other considerations about encroaching on personal time and getting buy-in, you should appreciate that some people simply do not cope well with "silly". For more introverted people, a game which potentially involves them having to stand up in front of the rest and making a fool of themselves can be very intimidating; all the more so if combined with colleagues who may go too far with it. I worked at one company which did this sort of thing as a mandatory Christmas event and at the end, I simply wanted to walk out the office and never come back. (I didn't, but the following year I made sure I had booked annual leave for likely dates)

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As an introvert myself, I should have considered this. Julia is absolutely right; for various reasons some people will not be comfortable with games of this kind no matter what and this should certainly be taken into account in both the types of 'games' you choose to schedule, how you react to people who aren't interested, and how you view the overall turnout. –  RobM Jan 21 at 13:52
    
John Cleese being first and foremost –  itcouldevenbeaboat Jan 21 at 14:32
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One suggested change to your promotion is this: Go talk to and choose a few people who will agree to play the game, and appear in your promo. Then you can promo the silliness for everyone to watch (even introverts can laugh at someone else doing silly stuff) and a little later in the event open the game up to people who wish to join. Giving people the benefit of seeing the fun in action, and then being invited to take part is a great way to involve people in things they might not usually do. –  EtherDragon Jan 21 at 17:05
    
While @EtherDragon has a good point, please be careful not to pressure people into playing. Someone who doesn't like playing these games might also be hesitant to refuse publicly (Eg. for fear of standing out). –  user1895420 Jan 21 at 20:14
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Could you please suggest something very innovative way to promote which will drive the employees to participate in the game?

Whatever you do, make sure it's presented as optional.

Not everyone enjoys stuff like this and the number one way you can kill the chances of it being received well is to mandate fun. Plenty of people want to come to work to work, then leave, and aren't at all excited to work longer hours to facilitate something they view as dumb.

We are planning to have an event of "Dumb Charades" in the office

You really should really change the name of this. I'm generally pretty "fun event friendly" and the name "Dumb Charades" sounds... completely unappealing to me.

Make sure the inspiration for this event came from the employees -- not just you. Hopefully you had some sort of survey or employee feedback which is driving this, not just a top down approach.


You really can't mandate or force people to enjoy fun. If you are having trouble getting response for this event, you should consider whether or not this event is a "you will have fun, damnit" event or a "employees want to have fun, here's an idea!" event.

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I "feel" I know what is going on, here, but it's hard to put into words.

You likely have a fairly "tense" workplace and the senior management is looking for a "quick-fix" to loosen everyone up and get them all to get along. You're a young, generally happy person, and management gave you the task because you must know something about happiness, right?

What you are looking for is a complete shift in the GroupThink, and you think the game will do it. The problem is that the game will only work if you've fixed the problem, first. It's not a chicken/egg issue. The game will help break down some bitterness and disengagement, but only if you fix the problems that created those issues, first.

In my experience, factors that can cause these feelings to build up are:

  1. Conflicting goals from management. Nothing will make two employees despise each other like incompatible objectives and limited resources. Company and departmental goals should be given to groups, not individuals, and preferably in writing.

  2. Nepotism / Cronyism. Hiring the boss's son as a college intern is one thing, but putting the former roommate of the CFO in charge of development when he is clearly unqualified will start an all-out mutiny. (Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt.)

  3. Misplaced recognition. If executive management is recognizing the manager of a group for the accomplishments of the group, teeth will be gnashed. Senior management needs to recognize and reward entire teams, not just the team leaders. This is especially important with monetary awards. Nothing will make your key employees more upset than seeing their manager get a 4 or 5 figure bonus for the sweat and toil of someone else. "Rock Stars" will appreciate a private, "I saw what you did, there. Great job!" talk much more than a bonus (usually) anyway. A team victory needs a team award.

  4. Obvious pay disparity. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with Nepotism/Cronyism, but seeing someone who doesn't pull their own weight bring in serious money just kills motivation and fosters contempt. It makes employees feel that "The game is rigged!" and that no matter what their own contribution, they aren't in "the Club" and it won't matter. If there is serious pay disparity, those on the high side of it need to be STRONGLY encouraged to not show it off at the office. No fancy watch, leave the Audi at home and drive the Chevy, etc.

I can't speak for your office, but if you're trying to do "something fun" and getting cool responses or even outright resistance, I'd bet you've got a problem with at least one of the above issues.

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That's some solid principal-based management, I'd say –  itcouldevenbeaboat Jan 21 at 15:08
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Could you please suggest something very innovative way to promote which will drive the employees to participate in the game.

I'm guessing that this sort of employee-participation game (or at least the Dumb Charades game) is something new in your office?

Office workers may be reluctant to participate in something new like this for fear that they will look unprofessional, or that they will feel awkward.

I have always found that getting the top person to participate wholeheartedly is the key to success. That signals to others that this is "fun", "safe" and "something you should participate in".

One way to show everyone how much fun this will be is to create a short video of the CEO/General Manager/top person participating. Email it around and let others know that if they attend they will get to see the CEO acting "Dumb".

Take still pictures from the video and make them a prominent part of your posters.

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Having fun time in office is am important part of creating culture and an employee friendly atmosphere. I'm working in a firm of around 150 people and getting them to an event is an almost impossible task. But we followed some basic things and response seems really good.

What we follow in our office :

  1. Created various groups and allotted members randomly to each groups.
  2. Get a leader for the group
  3. Events planned and coordinated with the help of HR team as well as these chosen people.
  4. Get some kind of point system going on.
  5. A person can participate only once so that other members get opportunity.
  6. Attractive prize is bonus.

All of the above actually helped create wonderful events and got active participation from almost all members. If you can get the CEO/head of office to get going, then this surely will be a hit.

All the very best..;)

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yes it is part of the game. but i want to promote it such a way that they get motivated to participate in the event. Posters are not doing the job –  Jinxed Jan 22 at 7:12
    
@Jinxed : Please go through my answer, this is exactly what we are following and it actually gets most people into the games as the people themselves are made to be a part of the core group and they will be motivated to turn this event to success.. –  Roy M J Jan 22 at 7:18
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If the biggest impediment to your office doing events is scheduling conflicts, then your management is doing a lot of things right. The game isn't needed to improve conditions, but it's actually a celebration of good conditions. Tip o' the hat to your management. –  Wesley Long Jan 23 at 16:12
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+1 for suggesting prizes –  Jessica Brown Jan 24 at 3:45
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