How to Boost Employee Morale: Create a Design Competition

How to Boost Employee Morale: Create a Design Competition

Ideally, your employees come to work each day happy to be there and ready to tackle whatever challenges come their way. The reality is, that keeping worker morale high is harder than most companies realize. So many factors influence employee happiness and satisfaction — some of which are outside of the workplace. When it comes to trying to boost morale, many employers turn to freebies first, but while free gear like custom branded backpacks or promotional bags filled with goodies can put a smile on people’s faces, the novelty of corporate swag wears off quickly.

A better way to boost morale at a company is to get employees involved in a group or team project that’s not work-related and just a bit competitive. We’ve heard of companies hosting guacamole taste-offs and chili cook-offs, but not every business has the facilities in place to host these sorts of food-centric competitions. You can get the same morale-boosting benefits at your company by holding a design competition.

Later in this post, we’re going to share more about why hosting a design competition is a great idea and how to do it, but first, we want to talk a bit about why organizations are taking another look at the importance of employee morale!

The Business Benefits of Boosting Morale

Employee happiness and employee satisfaction are frequently looked at as less important than, say, productivity. But the fact is, there is plenty of conclusive evidence that shows that things like engagement and morale are closely linked to productivity, efficiency, and profit. Here are four benefits you’ll see at your company when you invest in morale-boosting activities:

Increased production

Happier, more engaged employees tackle their work with more excitement and enthusiasm and get more done as a result. They are also more likely to go above and beyond when the going gets tough. Chances are that the top performers at your company are also the workers whose morale is the highest.

Less absenteeism

Employees who feel dissatisfied and disengaged are more likely to skip work just because (which can cost businesses a lot of money). Compare that to workers who are excited about what they do and are motivated to do better. These employees are less likely to get overwhelmed, fall behind in their duties, or play hooky.

Better relationships

When morale is high in an organization, people are more likely to think in terms of collaboration instead of competition. Teams are more effective because everyone feels comfortable at work, and everyone gets more done by working together.

Increased innovation

Happy workers are more likely to take positive risks like sharing cutting-edge ideas with managers. They aren’t afraid to speak up because they know what they’re proposing won’t be rejected out of hand.

Less burnout

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying a change is as good as a rest. Morale-boosting activities give employees a fun break from their everyday duties, which means they’ll be less likely to succumb to the kind of burnout that happens when work feels never-ending.

What Makes Design Competitions Such a Great Morale Booster

A lot of the ideas for boosting office morale that are floating around online are obviously geared toward large companies with a lot of resources to spare. Set up a company gym. Build a space for employees to eat together. Send employees to conferences in groups… these suggestions cost big bucks and take time to implement. Hosting a design competition, on the other hand, gets employees thinking creatively and working together without taking up a ton of valuable resources. Here’s why companies of every size can take this step to increase employee happiness and engagement:

Design Competitions are Low Cost or Even No Cost

Chances are that your organization already has a platform on which you can run your design competition, whether that’s your company intranet or even just a bulletin board in the break room. For the design and submission phase of the competition, the only expense you’ll incur will be printing up the rules. Once the competition ends, you may want to have the winning design printed on custom branded backpacks or another useful keepsake, but that won’t cost you a lot if you work with a company like ours.

Design Competitions are Clean and Green

We briefly mentioned cook-offs above, and while employees do like showing off their culinary skills for their colleagues, facilities managers don’t necessarily love team-building exercises that involve food. A design competition makes no mess and creates little to no waste. Most of your employees will probably choose to work on computers rather than on paper, and any paper waste generated by your contest can be recycled. And keepsakes like custom cotton backpacks are eco-friendly.

They Engage Everyone — Even Solo Entrants are Welcome

Some of your employees are likely introverts, right? Unlike some morale-boosting activities that require working with a team, a design competition can be opened to solo participation. That means that you can engage your introverted employees just as easily as your extroverted ones — which isn’t always easy to do!

 A Design Competition Can Be a Team Building Activity

Want to build morale across teams? You can encourage departments to submit team-generated designs and then give everyone at your company a vote. Working as a group on something fun will always bring people together.

 There’s a Tangible Takeaway at the End

While you will probably want to give the winning designer a prize, you should also consider giving everyone who participated in the contest — or even everyone at your company — a keepsake featuring the winning design. It’s easy to have any design printed on products like custom branded backpacks, custom logo coolers, t-shirts, or tumblers, and your employees will love having a reminder of the fun that was had during the competition.

 How to Run a Design Competition at Work

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to running a design competition at your organization. It’s easier than you think!

Step 1: Decide on the Parameters of Your Contest

Every competition has rules, and your design contest will be no different. There’s a lot to consider before you launch! First, think about how long you want the competition to run for… a week? A month? Then choose what kinds of designs you’ll accept. Do submissions need to include your logo, business name, or company philosophy in some way? Will there be a theme? Do departments have to submit one design or can any employee enter? How will entrants submit their designs? Via email or online?

And don’t forget about the second phase. Will employees vote for their favorite designs or will one judge or a panel of judges choose a winner? Will there be multiple winners or runners up? What will the winning design be used for? Will it go on a t-shirt or be printed on custom branded backpacks, for example? And finally, will the winning designer receive a prize? What will the prize be?

Step 2: Invite Designers to Enter

Launching your design competition can be as easy as sending an email or putting a notice in your company intranet, but why not take it a step further and really promote it? Print up posters with the competition guidelines, deadlines, and prizes and hang those around the office. Pitch the contest at your next all-hands meeting with a creative presentation of design fails. Bring in doughnuts on competition kickoff day. Ask teams to come up with clever names and post a competitor list. Make sure they know that the winning design will be printed on custom branded backpacks or another giveaway item. In other words, really put the emphasis on fun to get employees engaged and drive participation.

Step 3: Support Entrants Throughout the Competition

Make sure that your designers have the resources they need to really wow you with some epic designs. For instance, do all of your employees have access to the kinds of software programs they’ll need to create designs? What about those employees who’d prefer to work on paper? Hosting a morale-boosting design competition at your company isn’t a set it and forget it kind of activity. You need to encourage people to enter. Engage them during the contest. And make sure everyone who is participating feels like they have a chance to win.

Step 4: Promote Designs as They Come In

You should acknowledge everyone who participates in your design competition, even if it’s pretty clear they probably won’t be the winning entry. You can showcase a new submission every few days in an email or share submissions on your organization’s social media channels. Make sure you thank those entrants who have submitted their designs publicly, as this will encourage those who haven’t submitted yet to finalize their designs.

Step 5: Choose the Winning Design

At this point, what you’ll do will depend on the parameters you set when you created your competition. If the winner will be chosen by an employee vote, the easiest way to collect votes will probably be via email survey or on your organization’s intranet. Make sure you remind people to vote! If a judge or judges will be choosing the winning design, it’s a good idea to be transparent about who those judges are and why they’re qualified to choose a winner.

Step 6: Celebrate Your Winning Designer

If your goal is to make your company design competition an annual event that people look forward to each year, it’s a good idea to announce your winning designer with a lot of fanfare. One way to do this is to host a special company lunch in the winner’s honor and display their design during the event. You can also announce the winner and share the winning design on social media. Basically, what you want to do is make such a big deal out of the designer and the design that more people are inspired to enter the following year.

Step 7: Have the Winning Design Put Onto Keepsakes

Whether you give these keepsakes the entire office or only to those who entered the design competition, don’t skip this important step. Having the winning design printed on custom branded backpacks or other custom giveaway items is the perfect way to say thank you to your entire company for all of the hard work they do and the enthusiasm they bring to the table every day. Just make sure you pick great quality, useful items that your employees will actually enjoy.

And that’s it! As you can see, hosting a design competition is a relatively simple way to boost morale at your company — even if you don’t have a lot of resources to spare. And the return on investment you’ll see? It’ll knock your socks off.

Are you searching for the best quality custom branded backpacks to make your morale-boosting design competition even better? At Bagmasters, you can choose from hundreds of backpack styles, from simple custom drawstring bags to fashionable leather backpacks, and everything in between. Giving employees custom backpacks printed with the winning design from your contest will make them smile — and potentially get your brand seen by more people, no matter what your industry. Whether your employees are picnicking at the park, heading to the game, or heading out of town for the weekend, they’ll definitely appreciate this keepsake.

Ready to get started? Check out our full collection of custom branded backpacks here.


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