It was around this time last year (I can’t exactly remember the date) that I tried to improve the poor morale infecting my work. There had been some very poor recruitment decisions and even worse retention decisions that had put a lot more stress on the existing workforce. As you can imagine Management were far too busy trying to protect themselves than look after the morale of the people who actually done the work.
My idea was simple; I wanted to give my colleagues a little boost of positive reinforcement as they came into work. I wanted it to be something that work surprise and delight them, sending them into work with a smile on their face. Because of the secure nature of the building I work in, all personal items must be placed into a locker before entering the main office floor. This gave me a perfect opportunity to grab my fellow stressed out colleagues’ attention. The lockers themselves stretch down a narrow corridor; there are about forty-five stacks, six lockers high. The question was what to do?
Trying to balance surprise and office decorum I settled on a plan to leave simple motivational messages littered randomly through the lockers. Some were tailored to the job itself, some were more generic and a couple had poems. All of them were designed to tell the lucky recipient, “you’re awesome, thanks for coming to work”, something that was severely lacking.
Breaking out my very basic arts and crafts skills, I took myself on a shopping trip to find some good quality card to use, lovely pens to write with and of course because it’s me, a gallon of glitter. (Okay I may be over exaggerating but I do have a hell of a lot of the stuff.) I had measured out the insides of the lockers in stealth, so I knew the exact dimensions I wanted the card to be. There wasn’t really a lot too it, once I had the right size I marked off a lip to be folded at the top where I could attach some sticky tack and fix the cards to the roof of the chosen locker. With the card cut into shape I matched messages to different colours of cards and picked out certain messages that would have some glittery additions. Some would have glittering borders, some just a dash of underline and one had a big love heart in red glitter. Ironically, one of the girls in my department actually got that one and knew instantly I was the one leaving the messages, So much for being subtle. She would actually go on to get another job very soon after and due to this little venture asked if I’d make a card for her to give to a friend of hers. I was actually quite touched. Anyway, it took a few hours to get all the cards together, in total I made thirty-four. I could have probably made more, but I didn’t want over saturation. The plan was to have the messages scattered through random lockers, so with thirty-for there would be one message in every other locker.
All I needed now was an early shift so I could get in unnoticed and fill the lockers. If I’m honest I wanted people to find out it was me who had done this but I wanted it to be a slow burn throughout the day. The plan itself went perfectly. I got in half an hour early, just after 7am, at that time in the morning barely anyone is in so I had the freedom to go about my positive plot. Once set up there was nothing left to do but wait for the noise. Third hand I’d hear that people were finding them and really touched and curious who had left the messages but no-one actually talked to me directly until late on in the afternoon. It was less of a “Cameron, did you leave all those messages” and more “Cameron, I didn’t get a message and I’m disappointed.” All done in jest of course but it seem they had the right effect, inspiring a little morale boost, a little mystery and a gentle reminder that we’re all here for each other, even if Management isn’t.
Ultimately the positivity didn’t last beyond the day. It was foolish of me to think it would but I was being positive. Morale did get better over time as the staffing situation was taken care of and it became a less stressful environment. Still no-one ever got a thank-you for handling the bad times so well, especially considering Management had really made a mess. I like to think that my little project was a bit of relief during that stress filled summer and that people remember the kindness of someone going out of there way just to make other people smile.
I couldn’t take any photographs of the cards in the lockers at work due to the whole security aspect, but I did take a few the night before. So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s my attempt to bring a little positivity to a negative pit of despair…