Why Celebrate TGFS?
After reading recent announcements about Thank Goodness for Staff (TGFS), some of you have asked why we are having this event, what it’s for and why we should spend money on such an event given these difficult budget times. We welcome the opportunity to answer these questions.
What is TGFS?
TGFS is not just about playing games and having a picnic. TGFS, an event enjoyed by over 5,000 campus staff annually, kicks off with a call for submissions for Citations for Excellence, Staff Scholarships and Staff Dependent Scholarships. The event concludes with the Citation for Excellence ceremony at the Chancellor’s Residence. The awards, together with the picnic and activities related to TGFS, are the campus’s way of celebrating staff, honoring our contributions and recognizing all of us who work behind the scenes to support the academic and public service mission of the university.
So, Why Celebrate Staff?
Taking time out to celebrate during difficult times is just as important, if not more so, as it is during good times. Over the past year, many of us have experienced significant changes in our work environment. Some of these have been difficult, but all have required time, energy and effort to adapt. Amidst these distractions, hard work and exceptional achievements may go unrecognized. Simple courtesies may be neglected. TGFS provides an opportunity for everyone – from the administrators, deans, department chairs and senior managers who volunteer to serve staff during the picnic to each of us – to set aside the distractions for a moment and focus on the positive contributions we all continue to make.
Recognition-Schmecognition. Why Spend the Money?
Employee survey after employee survey shows that recognition and acknowledgment of one’s contributions goes further toward improving morale than even the almighty dollar. Participation in the sports and activities related to TGFS – bowling, volleyball, golf, fun run/walk, softball, tennis, Gunrock Bingo, TGFS Idol and Guess the Weight and Logo contests – all help build teamwork and camaraderie by getting staff out of their work areas and the day to day routine and helping us see each other in a different light. Who knew he could bowl a perfect game? Who knew she could design the winning TGFS logo?
Through these experiences, a different kind of bond and a new level of respect develops for coworkers within our departments and colleagues across campus. When our work relationships are positive, morale increases. And, when morale is up, so is productivity.
How Could Taking Time Out of the Office Possibly Increase Productivity?
Over 100 staff members volunteer to help plan and execute TGFS. By volunteering, staff who help with the event gain new skills, meet new people and have experiences that could help them in their regular jobs. Team leaders learn or develop leadership and organizational skills. Volunteers learn teamwork, how to handle logistical issues and how to troubleshoot problems on the fly. Every volunteer builds their talent for communicating across organizational boundaries and working with a diverse group of individuals. At a time when training budgets have been slashed, TGFS serves as an opportunity to learn and develop skills staff members may need in their current or future roles with the university.
Beyond the volunteers, TGFS provides an opportunity for every staff member to come out and meet new people, catch up with those we have worked with in the past, or get to know those we may work with in the future. The relaxed TGFS atmosphere provides an excellent opportunity for networking and information sharing, both of which contribute to increased productivity.
Can Something Be Said for Tradition?
Staff Assembly’s Executive Committee discussed at length the various issues and perceptions we might encounter as we prepare for this year’s TGFS. In addition to all of the reasons stated above, we realized that there is something to be said about traditions. This is the 30th anniversary TGFS. This means that TGFS has survived other difficult budget years. For the past 29 years, our predecessors believed that the benefits of hosting this event outweighed the costs. This is not, after all, a multi-million dollar event held as a private resort (though we can dream!). This year, TGFS is expected to cost about $13 per person. While it is difficult to measure the dollar value of the learning, laughs, teamwork, respect, networking, information sharing, camaraderie, relaxation, recognition and continuing of tradition that will take place, we are certain that it is more than $13 per person.