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How to leverage the Seahawks and the Superbowl to increase employee engagement


HRNasty gettin’ flossy with the Seahawks lid I picked up after the NFC championship game to commemorate an epic HR event.

Seahawks building Corporate Culture

If a company wants to build corporate culture and bring teams together, they could not have asked for a better opportunity than this week. This week is ripe for corporate team building in any company that has football fans, but in Seattle and New England, it is cherry pickin’ time.

Yes, another Seahawks blog. Last week I blogged about the Seahawks’ power of believing in your team / and hiring to corporate culture, and the come from behind upset win. One year ago I blogged about a misunderstood Richard Sherman. This week the Seahawks mania continues.

Seahawks vs the Patriots

It is just a few days before the Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. In Seattle, you cannot go 5 minutes without seeing a Seahawks jersey, a car decorated with Seahawks colors or a building with the ginormous 12th man flag visible for miles. There are a number of buildings in town that have swapped out the floodlights that illuminate their buildings with the Seahawks green and blue lighting. It is one of the best things that can happen to a city and everyone is in a great mood.

Yes, even HRNasty who has only paid attention to the halftime commercials is looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday. I was so impressed with the Seahawks I picked up my first sports-themed baseball hat pictured above, an official NFL licensed, New Era, NFC championship lid!

We are bonding

The Seahawks have not only brought the city together, but they have brought departments within corporations together. Employees are looking for their employers with pride because there are 12th man flags hanging from their buildings. There may be a large expense in swapping out the color of all of the floodlights that illuminate buildings to Blue and Green, but now employees are looking at their buildings with a different perspective. This week they are thinking “That is my building”, and smiling to themselves with pride. From an HR perspective, this is a Godzilla moment. As my fly tying mentor says, “This is Doctor”. 

From an HR standpoint, I think this is one of the best team building opportunities that corporations in Seattle or New England could have asked for. As I visit peers and colleagues in their different offices this past week, I am seeing every flavor and degree of fan enthusiasm. As an employer, I haven’t seen an event that has solidified company employees like our local Hawks going to the Superbowl, EVER.

Camaraderie for the home team 

The watering hole, (AKA in corporate America, the water cooler) has been surrounded by members of the various tribes or employees from different departments since the dawn of time. Since the invention of the time clock, employees have always visited company kitchens and break rooms. Where employees from different departments and teams would have otherwise gone about their breaks in a “mind my own business” sort of way, this week is different. The camaraderie created by the Seahawks has given everyone a reason to strike up a conversation.

Departments that usually didn’t talk to each other not only have a common bond, but are also signaling that bond by sporting Seahawks jerseys, limited edition lids, Seahawks earrings, and 12th man flags hung from cubicle walls. These past few weeks, corporate America in Seattle has a universal conversation starter – Football.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend”

What is cool about Super Bowl 49 is I don’t think there are too many people in Seattle that consider the New England Patriots to be blood enemies. I haven’t sensed a long history of rivalry between the two teams, but again, I am no expert on professional football. From my observations, this Super Bowl is not a case of the McCoy’s vs. the Hatfield’s.

I absolutely love the opportunity created for this corporate culture-building event. This week we have been brought together because we love and believe in our Seahawks, not because of our dislike or disapproval of another team.

Organic team building

I think this is the best week to leverage team-building events on the momentum that is already happening at an organic level. The team building that is going on is subtle but it is there for those that can appreciate it. If there are companies that think this is a week of distractions, don’t fight it. Accept the interaction as gift and leverage the opportunity. This week is not the United Way campaign where we have a company goal to raise money and measure for highest department participation. (I have nothing against this event, but it always feels a bit Big Brother when they track donation participation.) This week presents an opportunity for the best kind of team building available. This week the team building is self-motivated.  

How would HRNasty think about leveraging this event to create memorable corporate culture? How would I think about getting as many high fives and positive memories within the Acme Publishing building premises? Here are a few ideas:

Seahawks party in the office on Superbowl Sunday

I probably wouldn’t make a company announcement. I would just give the OK for a budget to some of the influencers in the company so it is more of a grass-roots effort and not a feeble attempt by managers like me who don’t know football. Conference rooms have big screen TV’s and larger companies have auditoriums. There is always someone who can hook up a laptop to a projector. There is nothing better than seeing someone from accounting high five’n someone from marketing. Actually, seeing anyone from accounting high-five’n anyone is a win, and this is our opportunity to make it happen.

The party doesn’t have to be elaborate

How much is popcorn? Chips and dip is cheap! How much does it cost to get some paper plates and napkins in team colors? It will cost you peanuts. Actually, get peanuts too. That is traditional ball game stuff, right? This has the making to create the best team building experience on the cheap – cheap. A very short waiver should probably be considered if alcohol is a consideration. If you don’t want alcohol, just say that kids are allowed to the event and use that as an excuse.

It could be as simple as a potluck, it can be as elaborate hotdogs, popcorn, and peanuts provided by the company. The point is, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Employees who have never been football fans will be fans on this day. Why not have them be fans with their co-workers? In the least, we could organize a company meet up at the local sports bar.

Biggest Seahawks fan contest

Our winner is probably not going to receive a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl but it is easy to go down to the local sports equipment store and pick up some football paraphernalia that can be displayed at the desk, will be a conversation starter, and item of personal pride. I am thinking Richard Sherman Bobble Head doll, miniature helmets, and of course, something they can wear to their Super Bowl party and gives our employee turned evangelist a bragging moment. “Yeah, I was the biggest fan at my company? Where do I work? Acme Publishing, you should check it out, it is a great place to work”.

Department showing the most Seahawks pride

We absolutely need to have this contest. Anytime you can get a department working together towards a common goal, you gotta’ play that card. Can you imagine walking into departments with crepe paper banners in blue and green hung May Pole style. I am seeing 20-foot “Go Seahawks banners” hanging from the cubicle walls. Hopefully someone is going to come in with a roll of that fake green grass we see in front of mobile homes and will create a miniature football-tailgating scene. The prize for this doesn’t have to be much. It could be as simple as a 2nd hand football trophy from the local Goodwill to a pizza lunch for the department.  

My HR dream

With any luck, a few guys will be wearing helmets and pads and a few women will be in cheerleader outfits. But the gods would really be shining on the Human Resource department if a few women showed up with the black paint under their eyes, helmets tucked under their arms and shoulder pads under their jerseys and the men showed off the cheerleader outfits with pom-poms and wigs. BooohhhhYahahh! If that doesn’t have the making of a memorable event that builds company culture, I don’t know what does. If people don’t walk away from that company meeting with a smile on their face, we got problems Yo’!

Keep the momentum going on Monday 

If your company has big screen TV’s throughout the office to deliver your company message, have the game playing on Monday as well and milk the momentum. In the least move the TV to the break room and replay it with the volume muted.

If you are a company whose employees are showing some Super Bowl enthusiasm, leverage it. Employees won’t be working together because they have to, they will be working together because they want to, and that my bitches, is company culture.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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