Words of Wilson will teach you each month to better understand, develop and manage your most valuable resource – your people.

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The office. What’s not to like? Crushing workloads, stacked deadlines and demanding customers give us plenty to grouse about. Gallows humor and in-jokes thrive at the water cooler and take the edge off being overwhelmed. Even the language we use to inspire our employees diminish the potential for fun. We tell them to be hyper vigilant, to have a sense of urgency and to be relentlessly focused. We create warriors, not brand ambassadors, and we wonder why no one’s happy.

There is a remarkable advantage to having fun at work. At my company, we strive to keep our employees motivated and refreshed. Our people form relationships outside of work, laugh a lot and share positive relationships inside the office.

I encourage team activities and friendships because social bonding is not only critical to collaboration, but appears to have had a huge impact on our profitability and growth.

There’s a lot of talk about the happiness index and we’ve been exploring this at my company too. When our employees were interviewed recently for a company story, our controller said that her greatest daily takeaway was that coming to work was fun.

“To become a more effective leader of your landscape company in 2017, help your own stress levels and those of your employees by giving the rat race back to the rats.”

When asked why, she said, “We celebrate the small wins.” Everything feels meaningful and everyone feels like they’re making progress on meaningful work.

To become a more effective leader of your landscape company in 2017, help your own stress levels and those of your employees by giving the rat race back to the rats. Here’s how:

1. Allow occasions for fun and games.

Invite staff to produce Plant Jeopardy, Brags & Bloopers, Regrets – I’ve Had a Few, Lemons to Lemonade Awards, Trivia Team Building, Customer Crossword/Service Scrabble or Project Pictionary, or create a company song. The ability to laugh at our foibles and sing our praises plays a serious role in leadership effectiveness.

2. Start meetings with mental aerobics to improve the group’s mood.

The more people focus on a creative exercise, the less they’ll be distracted by their smartphones.

3. Connect with your employees to show you care about their outside interests.

Sponsor their charity fun runs, marathons, tournaments, cycling tours, philanthropic outreach, faith-based initiatives and volunteer commitments, and make their win a win for the whole company.

4. Promote perks that boost community morale and good health.

Allow flexible schedules, family time off days, healthy catered lunches, snacks in the lunch room and an annual wellness day.

Develop a company recipe book based on potluck lunches where everyone brings a favorite dish and tells its story. Create a company garden and harvest and serve what you grow.

5. Rethink your team resumes.

Create “The Humans of …” storyline instead. Learn the backstory of your employees and promote their unique personalities, not just their frontline or back office personas.

Customers love knowing more about your people and it makes your company more interesting.

Most of all, leverage your rebooted team spirit. Social media, recruiting outreach and community events are all good places to let folks know you’re a great place to work.

Bruce Wilson is principal of green industry consulting firm Bruce Wilson & Company.