What do Company Softball Teams and EI Have in Common?

If you’ve been following this month’s blog series, you already know that Emotional Intelligence (EI)is more than just a buzzword, it’s a foundational skill that impacts both individual and organizational performance. So, what do company sponsored softball teams and EI have in common? It turns out that extracurricular activities like softball that connect employees outside of the office aren’t just a fun perk – they are one way to cultivate EI within an organization and a sign of a highly EI organization.  

In 7 Ways to Create Emotionally Intelligent Teams, Grant Gordon from Solomon Consulting Group explains the importance of encouraging employees to work and play together: “Whether you have a customary Friday afternoon beer with your co-workers, take the whole team to a baseball game a few times a season or sweat together in corporate challenge events, the result is the same: Colleagues who are in each other’s lives work harder. You’re no longer a collection of individuals who gather in an office but a true community pulling for group success.”

Don’t like sports or beer? Don’t worry! There are many different ways organizations can cultivate EI among individual employees, teams, and across the organization.

Work Hard, Play Hard.In organizations with high EI, employees don’t just work together, they play together. At FMP, we have a Social Committee, comprised of employees who have volunteered to  dedicate time to organizing fun events inside and outside the office. In addition to an annual holiday party, FMP sponsors a variety of events catered to employees/employees+1. For example: a chili cook-off competition, wine tastings, cooking classes, and a riverboat cruise. FMP also organizes family-friendly events like a night out at a Nationals baseball game, an annual family picnic, and quarterly office showers to celebrate upcoming weddings and the birth of babies, adoptions, etc. “[Hanging] out outside of work… [makes] working together more enjoyable and helps co-workers stay motivated during crunch time. These types of relationships fuel open communication, a good work ethic, flexibility and a better understanding of each person’s roles and expectation[i].”

FMP’s Annual Summer Picnic

Add Some Namaste to the Workday. You don’t have to be a yogi to appreciate the importance of relaxation, especially as it relates to managing the stress of the daily grind. Self-awareness and self-regulation are two of the five components that make up EI.[ii]  So any activities that help employees better recognize and manage their emotions and physical reactions can help develop higher levels of EI across the organization. As Forbes reports in How To Develop More Emotionally Intelligent Employees “developing stress management techniques is critical to becoming more emotionally intelligent …Organizations should incorporate stress-reduction techniques into the workplace wherever possible (offer yoga classes, discounted gym membership, meditation/prayer rooms, provide information on stress-reduction techniques).”

FMP’s Work-Life Effectiveness (WLE) Committee, another group of employee volunteers with personal interest in workplace wellness, sponsors several events throughout the year to help with stress management, promote relaxation, and boost overall wellness (such as nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, financial wellness). Twice a year, FMPers can get a free chair massage and participate in on-site workshops on nutrition, and even join a softball league. Other activities include quarterly financial wellness seminars that cover topics employees want to learn more about such as retirement planning, managing debt, and planning for home purchases, etc.; a self-defense class, and a fitness “sweat series” led by a certified trainer in our on-site gym. Our weekly all staff newsletter also has a Health & Wellness corner that covers a variety of topics around overall wellness and encourages participation in ongoing events. 

Come Together to Give Back. As an organization FMP has “… long understood the value of promoting service and giving, particularly since providing employees opportunities to engage in these types of activities can promote engagement and improve connection to organizational culture[iii].” FMP has another employee-run committee – the Charity Committee – that coordinates a variety of activities to give back to our local community. Activities are driven by the interests and ideas from our workforce, and include opportunities with varying levels of commitment, timing (on-site and off-site, on weekdays and weekends), and types of charitable work so as many employees as possible can get involved. 

FMP’s Holiday Wrapping Party

Examples of our charitable activities include a partnership with ALIVE, where FMPers pick up groceries monthly and deliver them to local families for their emergency food program. Another example which doubles as a team-building activity and social event is our work with the Fund for Alexandria’s Child Holiday Sharing program. Each team shops for one family’s wish list (gifts, clothing, and needed household items). Then FMP hosts a gift-wrapping party in the office to get the gifts ready to deliver and we collectively toast to the holiday season. 

FMPers packaging fresh food for families

Check out How We Give Back: A Look Inside FMP’s Charity Teamfor more details on how we put our culture that values a dedication to service into practice. 

We hope this gives you some creative ideas to apply in your organization. If you want to learn more about cultivating EI in your organization or how FMP can help you with your efforts, please contact BD@fmpconsulting.com



[iii]Beckstrand, G. (2018, January 8). Corporate Charity Is What Inspires Greater Employee Engagement. Retrieved from Entrepreneur: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/306225

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