Boost Your Office Culture: Add a Cruise Director

What if there were simple changes you could make within your organization to make employees happier, healthier, and more productive? Would you do it? What if you had the peace of mind knowing it would make the company more money? Having good office culture boosts productivity, reduces stress, decreases turnover, increases engagement, and overall makes your Monday through Friday not suck.

It’s Not Just Me, It’s Science.

Higher productivity and healthier employees mean lower health expenses and increased revenue. The better off your employees are, the better off your applicant pool will be and the cycle continues. And really, it’s the same concept for top-level professional athletes – aspiring Olympians benefit the most from practicing with other aspiring Olympians (Source: Zenefits). Warwick University found, “Happiness made people around 12% more productive.”

And if you haven’t seen the research, here are some pretty solid articles to convince you:

Beer on the Blue Ion Deck


Good Culture Can Get Better

It’s not as hard as you think. Tom Peters writes in his book In Search of Excellence (a book that Forbes praises as “one of the top management books of all time”), “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.”

Blue Ion has experienced good office culture for years – including dogs in the office, beer in the keg, pickup ping pong games, and music democracy – but in 2018 we pushed it as a priority even further. In a company-wide meeting, we decided it would stay a priority throughout the year if someone took the lead. Sound familiar? It’s just like any project!.

Enter: The Cruise Director.

I was immediately excited and volunteered for the role. There weren’t any expectations, no guidelines and certainly no handbook. I can’t mess this up! But wait, what do I do? What are my goals in this role?

  • Goal 1: Make each employee feel special.
  • Goal 2: Keep our social engagements on our calendars and promote them accordingly.
  • Goal 3: Do a really good job with goals 1 and 2 so we don’t need a 3rd goal.

Goal 2 was easy. All that’s really involved here is making sure any industry events locally or hosted at our office (like Refresh and AIGA) needed to be sent out as calendar invitation with a reminder that morning (if I’m feeling really on top of it that day).

Blue Ion Office Hosting Industry Meet-Ups

But how do I accomplish Goal 1? How do I make every person at Blue Ion feel special? Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit…

Step 1: Birthday Celebrations
As the most important non-holiday day to most people, we needed to do a better job recognizing birthdays. Back when we were a 12-man crew, this was easy. We all went out to lunch and Blue Ion graciously picked up the tab. But as we are now pushing 20 people and 2 locations (Charleston and Greenville, SC), this was getting harder to manage.

As Cruise Director, here’s what he/she does for each employee’s birthday:

  • Writes a birthday poem and shares with the team with a semi-embarrassing photo stolen from the internet.
  • Posts a birthday shoutout and posts on our company Instagram account (@blueioncrew) with a nice picture of that person
  • Contacts all of that month’s birthday people and asks them to decide collectively whether they want to go to lunch, go to happy hour (or host at the office), or have a cookout on the deck of our office and what days work for them.
  • Shares the birthday celebration with the whole team and asks them to fill out a poll with date and time options. The date/time with the most votes AND includes all of the birthday month peeps, wins.

Ellen's Birthday Poem

Step 2: Work Anniversaries
We have some real long-timers here at Blue Ion and it doesn’t always get recognized outside the milestone years: 1, 5, 10, or 15. We are changing that this year. With Rich’s help, I compiled a list of everyone’s work anniversaries and added them to our calendars like we do for birthdays. As the Cruise Director, I complete the following for each anniversary:

  • Send a note reminding everyone of the anniversary
  • Get a small $5 or less gift for that person like a muffin, doughnut, or cupcake with a candle in it…or a 22oz beer in a decorated brown paper bag.
  • Post an anniversary shoutout on our company Instagram account (@blueioncrew) with a nice picture of that person

Nic Anniversary Instagram Post

What have we learned so far?

  • It’s weird buying beer before 9am.
  • Poems are hard but worth it.
  • This is a great way to fill gaps in our social media calendar.
  • Don’t set the standard too high. Make sure whatever you come up with is sustainable for you and your workload. And if not, ask for help. Maybe one person does birthdays and another does the social calendar while another does the work anniversaries. Find a way to make it work.

There may be more in store for the Cruise Director role but for now, we are going to keep it at that. Nothing is worse than having the fun parts of your office culture go by the wayside.