Editor's note: Welcome to Resource Actions, our occasional, back-and-forth column covering everything from the bizarre to the day-to-day that, despite everything, impacts HR departments. Please feel free to send all tips, thoughts and HR-themed GoT sigils to [email protected] and [email protected].
Kathryn Moody: Every Monday for the past six weeks, I have come to the office ready to work and not at all to talk about what happened on last night’s Game of Thrones.
Just kidding, sadly.
Ryan Golden: *groans audibly*
Kathryn Moody: If you are a manager, you’re probably dealing with employees like me and a slew of my Industry Dive co-workers, who come in discussing who wore the best dragon-flying outfits, who will be Azor Ahai, who Daenerys Targaryen will kiss (or kill) and how many points characters got us in the Game of Game of Thrones (like fantasy sports, but for non-sports-oriented persons).
If you aren’t watching Game of Thrones, what do you even do on your Mondays? Work?
Ryan Golden: Unlike the expected majority of those who clicked on this piece, I don’t watch GoT. But while I can’t contribute to the discussions that inevitably cloud the lunch tables on Monday afternoon, I do admire the camaraderie they bring. Even if that co-worker bonding happens around dragons and ice zombies with terrible throwing form.
Kathryn Moody: I have at least managed to convince Ryan that Sansa Stark is the best character on the show, meaning my work here is done.
Ryan Golden: (It’s mostly because Sophie Turner is a great actress, and not just for that specific role.)
*Ahem* Distractions like these abound in the workplace, especially during the summer. And it might not be GoT for your team. Maybe it’s fantasy baseball/football, or a favorite Spotify playlist.
Kathryn Moody: Or perhaps it’s just normal life things — personal emails, social networks and online errand-running. It’s an old uphill battle for HR people. But we’re here to argue it isn’t one you want to die on. Do you really want to be the manager known throughout the realm as the Funslayer?
Ryan Golden: I’ll use another example from our office: scavenger hunts. Last month, all employees — from CEO to summer intern — got a half day off to hunt for clues around Washington D.C.’s famous museums and monuments.
It was fun diversion from everyday life, but it was an activity that also connect to two of our key company values: Feed Your Curiosity and Bring Your Personality.
Kathryn Moody: Many employers are scrambling for ways to actively create a positive work culture, after all. Why not let the activities that fall into your lap — like staff-run Taylor Swift song rankings — depict it for you?
Naturally, exceptions apply when employees legitimately aren’t getting required work done in favor of talking about the latest political machinations in Westeros. But this can often be handled on a person-to-person basis, rather than culling the whole thing.
Ryan Golden: And as author and industry luminary Dan Lyons said at the HR Uncubed conference in Brooklyn, ping pong tables and Friday afternoon beers don’t sell your company culture by themselves. These things are merely a small part of a much larger equation.
Kathryn Moody: There’s a time and place for everything, but there’s also a reason workers are opting for offices that offer real flexibility. It’s one of the best ways to signal to employees that an employer truly values work-life balance and actual work completed over ‘butt in chair’ hours, which is a boon to productivity overall.
Slackers gonna slack (perhaps literally on Slack) even if you block all access to Facebook. So long as a Monday morning chat about dragons isn’t depleting anyone’s performance, allowing for distractions could lead to long-term team strength. A sense of fun breeds friendship. Breaks lead to better health (and productivity). And all these things lead to employee retention.
Ryan Golden: None of the little things are necessarily more important to the employee experience than tried and true aspects like purpose, opportunity for advancement or personal development. But there’s a reason why companies across the board (yes, even legacy brands) are considering things like espresso machines and open workspaces.
When you’re competing for limited talent, you’ll want to use every available tool in your arsenal. Even if some in the office don’t pick up on the inside jokes.
Kathryn Moody: Don’t worry, my editor is surely reading this. Season 7 of GoT ends on Monday, and I will stop talking about it. At least, until it returns …