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Repetitive meetings, never-ending emails, and coworkers who do not pull their own weight. The salary is paying your bills and health insurance is keeping you just alive enough to keep going back to work, but you’re simply, for lack of a better word, bored. As much as we would all love to be building rocket ships, designing a cake replica of a Barbie dream house, playing with baby cubs at the zoo, or interviewing celebrities about their favorite vacation spots, most of our jobs are much less thrilling. Nonetheless, somebody has to do the fun-less jobs. So how do you spice up your work life without going on the daunting hunt for a new career or getting on your employer’s naughty list?
1. Start a work game or competition with your co-workers.
- This is a great way to befriend your coworkers and maybe even win a prize (although you should probably avoid any monetary winnings… that’s usually frowned upon in the workplace). Some of the most common office games include:
- Meeting Bingo—design bingo cards for each meeting with squares describing common meeting occurrences, like “Someone hangs up instead of un-muting," “Someone forgot to post their charts," or “Susan rolled her eyes at Joe," and mark your squares throughout the meeting.
- Bets—not formal gambling, but things like the last person to get to the office, finish their presentation, or reach a certain quota has to bring in breakfast or refill the candy jar.
- Raffles—award a raffle ticket to employees who attend staff meetings or complete the office surveys, then pull a winner once a week for a reserved parking spot, gift card, or other incentives.
- Contests—Halloween is perfect for best costume, and best ugly sweater for winter holiday parties, or have a contest for designing or inventing something that will benefit the office.
2. Take time to decorate your office space for each holiday or season.
You may be thinking, “why would I take the time to decorate a place I don’t even want to be?” But take my advice; making a place you spend the majority of your time feel more like home always makes it a little easier to go to. Dollar Tree and the discount seasonal aisles at Target have the best cheap décor to turn your office or desk into a winter wonderland, fall festival, spooky Hallow’s Eve, ‘merican promise land, or bunny and egg-filled grassland. If you want to get really extreme, you could even turn your desk area into an igloo or Santa’s gift shop! Your coworkers will also get a kick out of waiting to see what you’re going to do for the next holiday or season. A few cheap items for easy decorating are:
- Window clings (if your office has a window)
- Small wreaths
- Holiday trinkets (i.e., faux pumpkins, tree ornaments, or Easter eggs)
- Holiday signs (i.e., “Happy Fall, y’all”, “Hello Spring”, or “Made in America”)
3. Join a company club or group.
Many companies have an assortment of organizations you can join that have events during and outside of work hours. You’re sure to find one that fits your idea of fun. Some examples could be:
- Cycling or Marathon/Triathlon Clubs
- Ethnic/Diversity Organizations
- Nonprofit/Fundraising Organizations
- STEM Clubs (especially if you’re working in the STEM field)
- Singles Clubs
- Sports Clubs/Teams
4. Recommend monthly office socials or happy-hours to your management/HR department.
It’s nice to take one day, or even half a day, out of your work-month to relax and have a little fun with your team. You can keep the socials on the inexpensive side and have a potluck or pizza lunch brought in. If your company has a little more wiggle room in the budget, throwing an actual holiday or end-of-quarter party with food and cocktails is a great way to say “Thanks!” and build employee morale.
5. Make a kickass, motivating playlist to jam at your desk.
Any combination of Phil Collins, Prince, Madonna, or literally any song from an 80s or 90s teenage heart throb is your best bet at turning that frown upside down. Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, or Apple Music can be a real lifesaver when you’re in need of some uplifting tunes and pre-made playlists. Take advantage, turn those headphones up, and get ‘er done!
6. Request teleworking opportunities.
With the rise of millennial-run companies and a rapid growth in virtual work capabilities, more and more companies are allowing their employees to work from home or "flex" their schedules. Take advantage of these opportunities and complete your work day somewhere other than your stressful work environment. I mean, who doesn’t want to write a proposal on the beach or snuggle up with a blanket, coffee, and your laptop on your comfy couch? Don’t be afraid to request some flexibility or teleworking opportunities from your management if not initially offered.
These may not turn your boring job into the greatest place on Earth, but they can at least make the days go by a little easier. Always remember to reach out to your company management or HR departments to suggest anything you think may help with employee retention or engagement. The worse response you can get is “No."