Turning Annoying Into Awesome

It’s about 4:30 PM. You’re looking forward to the end of a busy day when you get the news…

“We have a rush order!”

Great. The company makes extra money while you scramble to get the order done and shipped out. You text your significant other, “Sorry, won’t be home early today.”

FedEx picks up in 30 minutes. If something goes wrong with during production — well, it better not because there’s no time to re-do anything. You buckle down, get the order finished, breathe a sigh of relief, and head home.

The company just made $100 of pure profit and all it cost was some stress for you.

This scene plays out frequently at many companies. I know it does at mine. When I thought about what it was like for my colleagues who bore the burden of handling rush orders, I knew we had to do something to try to make things better.

The Rush-Fee-Funded Fun Fund

Our rush service charge is basically all profit. I figured the company could be happy with a 50% margin, so we made the “Fun Fund.” Half of all the revenue collected through rush service charges goes into the Fun Fund.

The Fun Fund is administered by Jenna, one of our amazing customer service reps. She’s tasked with arranging outings and purchasing fun items to have at work. The cool thing is that I’m not involved. No “management” is involved. Jenna puts up polls on Slack, and everyone votes. Some notable Fun Fund purchases:

  • A trip to an escape room
  • Pop-a-Shot
  • Birthday gifts
  • Cinco de Mayo Chipotle

But there was another Fun Fund purchase that topped them all.

Giving Back

Jenna had the idea to use some Fun Fund money to buy clothes and toys for some women and their children who were being helped by the Crisis Center for South Suburbia — an organization that helps women get out of abusive domestic situations.

It was pretty awesome to see the heart and character of our team. Donating money set aside for “fun,” and providing a little joy and comfort to a few families going through a tough time.

Does it really make a difference?

I was curious about the impact the Fun Fund has had, so on a monthly employee survey, I asked. What I found is that it does make a difference, but not a big difference in the moment of working on a rush order, which makes perfect sense.

When you’re doing your job you don’t usually think about what you’re getting paid, but even though you don’t think about it while you work, it’s still very meaningful.

The biggest impact has been on the overall company culture. It’s a way to “put our money where our mouth is” when it comes to promoting an enjoyable workplace.

To be honest, before the Fun Fund, it was a challenge for me to come up with company activities. Establishing the fund let us hand over control to somebody else. It’s a win-win, less responsibility for me, and an opportunity for somebody else to take on responsibility.

Actually, by my count, it’s a win-win-win-win-win. Through the Fun Fund, we were able to:

  • Turn potentially annoying rush orders into an awesome perk
  • Promote a company culture of having fun
  • Donate to a worthy cause
  • Reduce tasks for which management is responsible
  • Give new responsibility to an employee

Educational Psychology Ph.D., business analytics nerd, computer scientist, President @MakeStickers

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