Why don't you and I settle the score?
By Guest Contributor Gary Galonek, Raving Partner, Incentive Merchandise and Loyalty Fulfillment, & National Sales Manager, Gaming, All Star Incentive Marketing
The sounds are unmistakable. Trash talk around a partners game of 8-ball at the pool table. The thwack of a ping pong volley. The whirling of foosball men, coupled with the smacking sound of a hard plastic ball against a wooden sideboard. We must be at our local tavern or a Dave & Buster's, right? Not in this case. We are located in the back of the house at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, during a work break. It may seem like a strange place for this type of activity, but upon further review, perhaps it shouldn't.
Despite the fact that casino workers are surrounded by games of chance during their entire workday, they do not reap any actual recreational enjoyment out of a spinning roulette wheel or tumbling dice. They experience these thrill rides vicariously through casino patrons. And while this may provide some measure of enjoyment, it is not like the real thing. I can only watch someone demonstrate how to ride a jet ski or swing a golf club before I need to feel the water splashing on my face or the golf ball leaving the club face myself. By affording your employees the opportunity to take part in recreational activities on breaks, you will find that they:
- Bond with other employees. You may not have realized that you and a co-worker share a love of pool or video games, and this may bring you closer together and make for a better team in the work environment.
- Let off steam. A spirited competition, perhaps even with some good, old-fashioned "in your face" and high-fiving, may just help employees get through the day without taking out their frustrations on a guest.
- Act healthier. This may be a bit of a stretch, but if the options for an activity for twenty minutes off were to smoke a cigarette or engage in a spirited game with co-workers, certainly the latter is the better choice for the health of that employee.
Mohegan Sun started with a ping pong table, added a foosball game and a pool table, and in no time at all, the popularity grew to the point that they added a second pool table and will soon be incorporating new arcade games, many at the suggestions of the employees who participate in the fun. Jeff Hamilton, Vice President of Human Resources, says that in his ten years at Mohegan Sun, no other initiative has created such positive feedback amongst employees. He acknowledged that just being one of the biggest casinos with the most amenities is not enough in the increasingly competitive gaming industry. According to Jeff, "Everything revolves around guest service. A happy, engaged employee will provide a better guest experience." Their goal is that employees "have a good day every single day, not just most days." Employees have been known to play for an hour or two after their workday is done, "working up a sweat in the process."
This speaks to the larger issue of employer wellness programs in general. Wellness programs have taken off in recent years, as employers realize that healthy employees are more productive and cost less. According to Hewitt Associates, for every $1 an employer spends on a wellness initiative, they can expect a $3 to $6 return. A long-term study by Johnson & Johnson, conducted by MED-STAT, indicated that health care costs were $225 less for each employee who participated during a four-year period, and that voluntary participation increased from 26% to 90% when incentives were offered. These incentives can come in the form of department parties, gift cards, tangible merchandise rewards, or even an extra ten minutes to settle a score with the pit boss on the pool table!