Do Work Perks Work?

From Amazon to Zappos, companies seem to be competing for the most outrageous employee perks and benefits — free meals, childcare, gym membership, massage — how can the average employer keep up and compete in this competitive job market? Will employers be able to attract a talented team without more and more freebies? Do these benefits work? Are they really the key to greater customer satisfaction and profitability? The answer is, maybe.

The two-factor theory of motivation, developed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg, states that these extrinsic factors are effective in keeping employees from becoming dissatisfied with a job. Along with base salary, job security and insurance benefits, they must be provided to keep employees functioning at least at a “neutral” state.

But these companies also know that employees need more than pool tables and air hockey to keep them genuinely excited and motivated about the job. Intrinsic factors must also be met. Motivation to perform well comes from having a job that provides attainable challenge, feeling as if one has the autonomy to complete the work and knowledge that growth opportunities are available in exchange for a job well done. Many of the perks are also designed to facilitate social interaction between employees – as relationships make up another important component of motivation.

Without fulfilling work to do, workplace fun and games remain superficial. Top-ranked employers know that true motivation is multifaceted – incorporating both intrinsic and extrinsic reward.

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Do nice guys finish first?

Do nice guys finish first? This is the question asked by Organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who identified three types of employees— givers, takers and matchers— then studied which personality type performs better on the job.

Takers are the people who approach most interactions wondering “what can you do for me?” while givers ask “what can I do for you.” Most of us fall somewhere in between as matchers, aiming for a “quid pro quo” style where we attempt to generate a nice even balance of giving and taking.

Grant found, surprisingly, that the worst performers in the workplace are givers. Givers are so busy doing other people’s jobs that they literally ran out of time and energy to get their own work completed.

But on the other end of the spectrum, the best workplace performers are… also givers. “Givers are over-represented at the bottom and at the top of every success metric that I can track,” says Grant. If givers are so critical, what can a leader do to build a culture where givers succeed? Grant has three suggestions:

1. Protect givers from burnout (watch the video or subscribe to the ODA newsletter for tips on how to do this)

2. Encourage help seeking. Make it OK for everyone to ask for help, which sends the message to givers that it’s Ok to be a receiver, too.

3. Get the right people on the bus. This means managers want to focus on hiring givers and matchers, and weed out the takers. (watch the video for tips)

While it may not be easy to completely transform our workplace style, numerous studies have shown that anyone, even matchers, can reap great benefits by making more an effort to help others. Subscribe to our newsletter for an activity that can help your team cultivate an attitude of giving.

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The Superhero Leader

Dexter. Danny Ocean. Tony Soprano. Robin Hood. They are likable villains. Why do we like them? They may be funny. Stand up for the underdog. Maybe they are the least bad in a world of bad people. In any case, the key to a likable antihero is that we see their soft side, their care for someone else—  maybe for their team or family— that shows that while their actions are abhorrent, they look out for others. We feel an emotional connection with them because of this kindness. In contrast, the real villain, the one being inflicted by the protagonist’s crimes, is void of kindness, is heartless and self-absorbed.

Clearly a little emotional connection goes a long way. Dalton Kehoe, author of “Mindful Management” would agree. “When you connect to people, you’re making a positive connection that immediately engages the emotional mind,” Kehoe said. “We immediately open up to people who smile at us or politely say hi to us, even in public places where you don’t know anybody. The same thing happens at work, particularly when it happens over and over again.”

By contrast, traditional managerial philosophy has been based on the rational mind, which is found in the prefrontal cortex, right behind the forehead. Leadership assessments measure traits such as assertiveness, risk-taking and logic. Leadership characteristics such as smart, motivational, self-confident are at the forefront of our mind, while characteristics like communicating, understanding people and getting them to work with you are the traits most likely to make a manager great.

This is how our minds work; trust begins as an emotion, not as a rational thought. We respond to the emotional connection. Everyday leaders are superheroes, not antiheroes but they’ll still make mistakes along the way. In those times, the trust and support of colleagues is essential and it all starts with that positive connection.

One way to make an emotional connection with your team is to step out of “work mode” and get a little goofy together with your team. ODA would love to plan a fun event, contact us at 480.788.5093 or

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Million Dollar Moments

The current season of the CBS TV show The Amazing Race features teams of two who met and were partnered on the very first day of their race around the world. Rather than being randomly assigned, one partner chose the other partner in order of their placing in an initial challenge. This dynamic created an additional struggle as while some of the chosen partners were thankful to have been selected by a strong team member, others were resentful about getting paired with someone more challenging. Some partners immediately found commonalities such as careers or upbringing, while others struggled with communication blocking differences.

Teams line up to start the race

While most of us may not find ourselves partnered with a stranger in an intense race for one million dollars, we’ll no doubt find ourselves in situations where we’re called on to work quickly and closely with a partner or group we don’t know well. In these high-pressure circumstances, teams may experience volatility as they quickly progress through the team formation phases.

When time is short, it’s important to plan time for team formation. This is the first and most important stage of Bruce Tuckman’s five stages of team development.

Our U.S. work culture is known as being fast, driven and not slowing down for the pleasantries and conversation that are so important to business dealings around the world. However, it’s important to pause and make sure team members get to know each other. Get to know others on a personal level, identifying commonalities as well as discussing the professional strengths each member brings to the team. The other important aspect of the forming stage is the establishment of mutually acceptable norms and rules.

A thorough forming stage sets the team up for a productive storming stage. This occurs as team members become more comfortable expressing opinions with each other, tensions and emotions are heighted and members may challenge authority or resist assigned tasks.

During this stage it is important to continue to refocus the team on their shared goals and objectives, to remain positive, supportive and ensure all members are heard. This is a frustrating but critical part of the process and where an understanding of Tuckman’s stages comes in useful. When a team acknowledges that this emotional period is normal and will pass, it allows them to handle the stage with a more diplomatic approach. Working through this challenging stage together builds the cohesion necessary for the next stage.

Cooperation is important in the norming stage of team development as members have become trusting and supportive of each other and learned how to communicate more effectively. This unity ushers in the performing stage where the team functions as a unit, with energy directed into achieving the team goal. Disagreements that arise are resolved in a positive way.

The five stages are not always such a clear, linear process. Teams may find themselves in multiple stages at once, or backsliding. The phenomenon can be clearly seen in the Amazing Race. Teams may find themselves re-establishing the leadership role as they face a challenge in which one partner excels. And as new information is learned about each other along the way, communications breakdowns may occur. Like work teams, they are always forced to continue performing the tasks during each leg, regardless of how much conflict is occurring. However, to have a chance at winning the highly competitive final leg, teams must have successfully reached the stage where they are able to fully direct their positive energy into one last unified effort.

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United Not Divided

Football Arizona team building Politics. Religion. Not much else is able to so strongly unite or divide groups of people. What can teams do to keep things like politics and religion from being divisive forces? Since its football season, we’ll take a look at a football team as an example.

While it is not hard to find professional athletes vocal about their faith, the Philadelphia Eagles have become known as a team where, according to a recent ESPN story, many members “find common ground through spiritual devotion,” with players routinely engaging in Bible studies, baptisms and other faith-affirming activities. A large number of team members vocally place their Christian faith above anything else. “This is by far the most spiritual team I’ve been on,” said backup quarterback Chase Daniel to the magazine.

Not every team member shares the same level of enthusiasm for spirituality, so while players make a point of trying to encourage others to join them in their faith journey, every effort is made not to exclude those who don’t join.

There have been occasions, special-teams ace Chris Maragos said, when one player has approached another about religion and has been met with a firm stop sign. And that, they say, has been respected. In a profession where chemistry is so key, they are careful to make sure that no one feels either excluded or pressured.

“We can’t just take Bibles and slap them across people’s heads and think they’re going to want to join and learn more about Christianity,” receiver Jordan Matthews said.

Despite the religious diversity, team members agree that the spiritual prevalence means “It’s just a better atmosphere. On Sundays, we might lose, things might not always go our way, but to be with those guys and to have a positive environment in this locker room — not just the Christian brothers, but everybody — it just brings out a better atmosphere,” rookie quarterback Carson Wentz told the website. “I enjoy coming to work. I always have, but [it’s] just a whole other level now.”

Politics? Religion? How can a leader maintain team unity despite being challenged by divisive beliefs? The Association for Talent Development shares two key ingredients.

First, ensure the team has compelling common goals that members care about. The Eagles clearly have clear team goals in place, which creates a solid foundation for unity. But the next ingredient requires more ownership from members. The second key factor is a team that knows and cares about each other. For teams like the Eagles divided by religious beliefs, this requires that members step outside their comfort zone and get to know each other on more neutral terms. Family, hobbies and travel can be topics that are comfortable for all. When these two commonalities are in place, common goals and caring team members, larger differences in beliefs can take a backseat.
Start your team’s year off right by strengthening your team’s unity. A One Day Adventures event can give your team the time it needs to get reacquainted and reminded of the goals and values that brought them together. Contact us at or 480-788-5093 for details.

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How to Handle the Holidaze

office-christmas-partyTis the season for people, presents, parties… and more parties. It seems like there is no end to the work functions, social events and family functions. So much small talk can be challenging –staying engaged and interested in so many different people.

In our workplaces, sometimes we avoid that awkward small talk, choosing to stay within the comforts of our familiar work group. In reality, that’s just not practical. Just like the Marines work with the Army and Navy to complete missions, our accounting department works with marketing and human resources, not only interacting but relying on them to accomplish the overall mission of the organization.

This means we have to get out of our little work group comfort zone. Teams can’t remain in isolation; they have to understand the big picture, what other teams do and how each department affects the others.  It’s easier to appreciate how other people work when we first understand who they are.  Understanding who they are is a gradual process that might have to start with a little casual conversation.

So at the next holiday party, when Tom from sales is regaling you with a long winded story about his last fishing trip, consider it a strategic move for you and your team. The next time you need a key phone number, you know you can rely on your new team mate for help.

Tired of the same old holiday party? Call us to plan a truly unique and active event. 480.788.5093.

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Fun for the Whole Family

Have you recently enjoyed a fun day out at our Phoenix ropes course? Good news, you can share the same excellent adventure with your friends and family with our adventure package.  Yes, kids too! Your group will have so much fun they won’t even notice you’re getting a little exercise. And a lot of fresh air.

This package combines rappelling, rockclimbing and ziplining into one unique, adrenaline-filled excursion.  Start out with a challenging climb up the rock wall which summits at the log bridge.  Demonstrate your balance and bravery as you make your way across the log to the rappel station. Then sit back in your harness for the rappel down. Let yourself relax and enjoy the view – your competent staff belayer is there to keep you secure the entire time.  Of course the outing wouldn’t be complete without a zipline ride. With a lack of old growth forests here in the Sonoran Desert, we can’t promise you’ll get the same experience as a Costa Rican canopy tour. But our zipline is still fast, fun and family friendly.

The outing is a perfect adventure for out of town guests. Our private site is nestled into the base of a mountain park with views of downtown Phoenix, showcasing the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. It’s also the perfect backdrop for the huge grins typically seen as riders whiz down the zipline. Your guests will thank you for giving them such a perfect photo opportunity!

For package details, check out our sister company,, or contact us at 866.222.4703 or


Laughter as a Learning Tool

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast month’s post extoled the benefits of giving a team time to relax and have a little fun together. Still not convinced that fun and games have a place at work?  Maybe you’ll be interested in to know that even an organization like the U.S. Department of State, that engages in very serious business, advocates a little fun.

This department is tasked with supporting and serving the U.S. citizens, and their families, who work overseas as Foreign Service Officers. Because these can be stressful positions in high threat regions, the department has a well-developed stress management program. One goal of this program is to help employees develop resiliency. Resiliency is ability to recover quickly from disruptive change, or misfortune without being overwhelmed or acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways.

When was the last time someone on your team experienced change or trouble – An unhappy client? A software glitch? A shipment delay? It happens regularly and it’s important for the team to be able to handle it without falling apart.

Fortunately, resiliency can be learned and developed in everyone. According to the Department of State, laughter is one technique for enhancing resiliency and recommends “trying to find time to smile and laugh even when things seem to be falling apart around you. It’s very healing and it will help you forget your worries for a few moments.”

Laughter enhances resiliency by helping us feel more optimistic and effective at our jobs. A positive attitude has been shown to increase productivity, and then as a person uses laughter to develop resiliency, they become better able to tackle challenges through creativity and a positive attitude. How much would your team benefit from increased productivity and creativity? Start building resiliency today, one laugh at a time.

We would be happy to help! Contact, or sign up for our newsletter for some fun, easy activities you can do with your team.


Go Ahead, Have Some Fun

Goofy pic Team building initiatives sometime get a bad reputation for being “cheesy.” We make you do puzzles, throw rubber chickens around and dress up in funny clothes. Why all the goofy activities, wouldn’t a team’s time be better spent learning something useful, or you know, working?

Of course the work must get done, but taking a “play break” can help the team accomplish even more. Play encourages a team to relax around each other. Playing a game gets people to let their guard down.

Say you have new team members who haven’t completely assimilated into the team yet. There may be some reserved members who get overshadowed by more outspoken team mates. Perhaps you just have group members who are insecure. Insecurity makes a person act guarded and fake. They try to be something they are not, out of fear that their real self will not be accepted. Because we intuitively sense discomfort in others, this awkward behavior rubs off on the rest of the team.

Games are the great equalizer. You’ll find that under the guise of a competition, people will get goofy and laugh together. Then once relaxed, teams are better able to problem solve and work together. These fun moments help break down walls and create camaraderie that will carry over into the workplace.

This summer while students are out of school and families are on vacation, it’s great time to and add some “goofiness” to your week! An ODA facilitator will be happy to help!

To see video clips of One Day Adventures’ games in action, check us out on Facebook. For ideas on games you can play in the office to help your team bond, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, in the right column.

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How to Get a Free Bonus From Your Event

ParkDid you know that most of our ODA programs are held entirely or primarily outdoors? Not sure why you should know or care about this random fact?

Because if you are one of the 80% of event planners who select an outdoor venue you are getting an extra benefit, absolutely free. Yes that’s right, a free bonus!

Not only is your team getting a fun activity that will improve relationships, you are also improving their health!

Studies from around the world are finding evidence that outside time offers health benefits ranging from decreased blood pressure and heart rate to lower anxiety to a boost to the immune system.

Getting outside is so important that forward-thinking doctors have even taken to prescribing outside time. A pilot program in Washington D.C. created a database of information on all city green spaces, searchable by zip codes, giving doctors in the Unity Health Care system the tools they need to make specific recommendation to patients. In the first two years of the pilot, 720 prescriptions for time outside were written, both for children and adults.

So, which park will you “prescribe” for your team— Phoenix’s South Mountain Park? San Diego’s Balboa Park? Sedona’s Red Rock State Park? Prescott’s Granite Basin? Whichever one you choose, One Day Adventures will be glad to help create an experience that is just what the doctor ordered!

Contact us at or 480-788-5093.

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