Four Ways to Rethink the Daily Grind

April 10, 2015

Last week, I joined a new friend for tea and to swap stories about our work. As I was explaining that Brilliant Ink helps other companies create meaningful employee experiences, I mentioned that a key area we focus on is “the daily grind” – i.e., the period of time after the newness of a job wears off and you settle into a routine. My friend scrunched her nose and asked me a simple question. “Why does it have to be a grind?”   

Great question, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t have a good answer. I spend a lot of time thinking about company culture, especially the one I’m responsible for here at Brilliant Ink.  It isn’t perfect, but I’d be horrified if anyone who works here thinks of it as a grind. Yet it’s commonly accepted that sooner or later, you’re going to end up slogging your way through each day, counting the hours until the weekend. 

So, why does it have to be a grind? It doesn’t. Here are a few simple, highly effective ways you can create a vibrant culture that doesn’t feel soul-sucking:

  • Tell your employees that the work they’re doing matters. Better yet, show them. Our own research indicates that employees who see connections between their daily activities and a company’s mission, vision and values are more likely to feel engaged. So keep talking about it, even if you feel like a broken record.
  • Shake things up. Walking meetings. Salon style discussions on particular topics. Show and tell sessions. We’ll try just about anything on ourselves, which has led to all kinds of experimental programs that help us get smarter about our field, more connected to each other, and off our duffs and moving. Some of these programs stick around and some of them don’t, but I can guarantee that no one would ever call our culture boring.
  • Use transparency to create trust and collaboration. Every Brilliant Ink employee knows our business goals and strategies, as well as our financial goals and how we’re performing against them on a monthly basis. We all have a stake in the health and success of our business, and knowing this makes our work more meaningful and collaborative.
  • Have fun together. We recently instituted daily five-minute movement breaks as a way to reenergize and feel connected across time zones – no matter where you are, when that calendar reminder pops up, it’s time to move! What began as an attempt to get a little exercise has evolved into a five-minute free-for-all of silliness and fun. We’ve done the Macarena together, practiced model walking, and generally embarrassed ourselves in front of each other over and over again (I’ve made a personal request for a movement break featuring Fleetwood Mac music next week, and can’t wait to channel my inner Stevie Nicks). Can five minutes of daily fun change your culture for the better? Absolutely.

I haven’t come up with a catchy name yet to replace “daily grind,” but I do know that I won’t be referring to our work with that term again. Not every day on the job will be perfect, but we can all aim for more meaning, collaboration and fun at work.

Have a great way to describe the ideal daily work culture? Leave us a comment below! 

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