Do pyjama (pajama for my US friends) days build engagement?

Do pyjama (pajama for my US friends) days build engagement?

I was chatting with friends the other night and one of them mentioned that morale was poor at their workplace, so they were having a “wear your pyjamas to work” day.

Pic used with permission from Microsoft

Will having a pyjama party actually improve morale?  No way.

In fact, my friend was dreading it, and thought it was somewhat impractical in a work environment where half of the employees worked in a warehouse setting.

Events like this only scratch the surface of employee engagement.  Unless you get to the root cause, you won’t make a long-lasting improvement.  In fact, you could make things worse.  My guess is some people may have fun that day, others (like my friend) may hate it.  Regardless, any positive impact this type of event will have will be temporary.

The trouble is, this is the direction many organizations turn when they want to increase employee engagement.  In a recent study by Aberdeen Group (2004), Employee Events was the most commonly used strategy to improve hourly employee retention, with 68% of companies investing in them.  The same study also found that this had the most uncertain return on investment.

The path to engagement is much more strategic, long-term, and challenging.  You have to engage their Hearts and Minds.

Here are a few ways to start.

Engage their minds:

  • Evaluate your compensation practices.  Are people paid fairly and equitably, both internally and compared to market?  Pay is not a motivator, but it can de-motivate people.
  • Improve your internal communication.  Do people have access to the information they need to complete their work?
  • Ensure that everyone has all of the necessary tools to do their job. Fix technology, provide access to resources.

AND Engage their hearts:

  • What is your organization’s vision, mission, etc.  Do they resonate with employees?  does everyone in the company know where your headed and what their role is in taking the organization there?
  • Take a look at all leaders’ style.  Make sure they’re aware of their strengths and opportunities.  Have them share this, candidly, with their teams.  An introspective look and a leader who is self-aware is much more able to flex their behaviour and engage people.
  • Empower people.  Hire people who are aligned to your vision, train them in your standards, and set them loose to do their jobs.
You can see all of these tactics are a lot more challenging and time-consuming than pyjama days, but I guarantee, if you invest in truly engaging your people, you will see a return on your investment.

3 Comments

  1. June 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Unfortunately, I see this causing more harm than good. I can definitely see it creating some uncomfortable situations. And at the end of the day, you're still not addressing the real issue. Better to follow the advice you suggested and perhaps doing an employee lunch day? I see that as more effective.

    Reply »
    • June 14, 2011 at 6:18 am

      HI Ricardo, I agree - PJ day can be uncomfortable! I'd like to see a dress code built around it... And as long as doing lunches or other events is part of a larger, deeper strategy they can help in little ways. But if all you're doing is adding various events, the culture you're building is only skin-deep.

      Reply »
  2. December 17, 2013 at 10:06 am

    […] week, I was struck once again by how wrong leaders often are about what engages employees. As I was outlining a plan for culture workshops with the senior leadership team at a client […]

    Reply »

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