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Montrose Daily Press

Kati O’Hare of the Montrose Daily Press was all over this idea when she heard about it. See what she had to say when she visited Community Options in Montrose, Colorado to learn about their Recess At Work Day.

Arizona Daily Star June

Becky Pallack of the Arizona Star loves the idea of Recess At Work Day. She even found a couple of companies who understand the importance of morale in the workplace.

Sports Illustrated

In the article titled “Give The Kids A Break” highly respected sports writer Steve Rushin says, “We all need a break. Some Teamsters get two 15-minute breaks per shift, the Supreme Court is in recess from July to October, and the third Thursday of every June is National Recess At Work Day, whose founder, Rich DiGirolamo, suggests that adults drop whatever they’re doing next June 21 and play tag and dodgeball, jump rope and eat watermelon.”

Recess is not over. It has just begun and it is making a resurgence. Let the boss know: Recess at Work Day is this Thursday

By David Krechevsky
© 2005 Waterbury Republican-American

You probably know that next Sunday is Father’s Day, but there is another holiday this week.

Thursday is Recess at Work Day.

Never heard of it? Most likely that’s because it’s only in its second year.

Celebrated on the third Thursday of June and now recognized by Chase’s Calendar of Events, the unofficial bible of national holidays, Recess at Work Day encourages businesses to organize a 30-minute break for their workers. Employees should turn off their computers, put down their cell phones, go outside and do something fun as a group — anything from eating ice cream to playing an all-out game of tag.

Think of it as “Take Your Inner Child to Work Day.”

Not surprisingly, the founder of this new national event calls himself “The Big Kid.” Rich DiGirolamo is a Wolcott-based business consultant who focuses on reducing employee turnover.

“Employee morale and retention are not that high these days,” DiGirolamo said during a recent telephone interview. “Employees are being asked to do more, to give more of their time and sacrifice much of their personal lives.”

The result is a workplace that often isn’t much fun to be around.

DiGirolamo was thinking about that last April, after attending a professional development workshop, when he came up with the idea of a national day to restore some fun on the job, even for just a half hour.

“It came about as a way employers can thank their employees, and add a little bit of fun into a work environment that has just become harder and tougher,” DiGirolamo said.

Recess at Work Day is a chance “to relive your youth, create team spirit, increase employee morale and just have some fun,” he states on his Web site, www.recessatworkday.com. “All employees should go outside and play. Fly a kite. Play tag. Juggle. Bring a jump rope with you. Play catch. Toss a football. The possibilities are endless.”

It may sound pointless, but DiGirolamo is adamant about the benefits, both for employees and companies alike.

“When you do things like this, productivity actually increases,” he said. “The mileage an employer can get out of this, I can’t even explain to you.”

Sue Albino can. A manager in the Respiratory Care Department at Hartford Hospital, she helped organize activities for the holiday’s debut last year.

“It’s challenging when you work at a hospital,” Albino said of setting up for the event. “You can’t really pull your people away from patient care.”

Instead, she used the day as a team-building exercise for groups of new employees, recent graduates who were getting their first taste of the hospital’s work environment.

“I kept mixing them up with new partners,” she said. “I made the games silly and fun.”

One game resembled the egg toss, but using a Hacky Sack footbag instead. There also were Hula Hoops and Wiffleball jai-alai equipment to play with.

“We did it for 45 minutes and then went back inside,” Albino said.

The regular staff wasn’t forgotten, though. “Managers served all of our staff ice cream in dishes and then they made sundaes. We laughed a little, told funny stories, and even had a Hula Hoop in the hallway if anyone wanted to try it.”

The day was a success, she said, not just because it built camaraderie, but because it sparked interest in doing social activities more often. The department now gets together for potluck lunches every couple of months, she said.

“Anything you can do to build morale is worth trying,” Albino said.

Mark Soycher, human resource counsel for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, agrees with that, to a point. If, unlike at Hartford Hospital, the Recess at Work Day is a one-time annual event, it may not be worth it, he said.

“A 30-minute break on this day once a year is probably going to do more damage than good if you only do it once,” Soycher said. “It can be disruptive in some instances, too.”

He also said some employees may balk at what he called “forced camaraderie. There are some folks that just don’t like to do that type of stuff.”

Still, the holiday can have benefits if it is the impetus for other efforts to boost morale, he said. DiGirolamo says as much on his Web site, suggesting the holiday is only the start and managers needs to make “a longer-term commitment” to improving morale.

“I agree with the concept,” Soycher said, “if it is sparking some thinking on how best to recognize people’s contributions and make them feel welcome, valued and respected.”

In spite of the skeptics, DiGirolamo remains adamant that Recess at Work Day has a sound foundation.

“The great thing about this,” he added, “is it really is a no-cost one. What does it cost to tell employees to go outside and have fun?”

The above article appeared in the Waterbury, CT Republican American newspaper

Work a drag? Maybe it’s time to take a recess

By Greg Kratz
Deseret Morning News

Most Utah children have left behind school and books and teachers’ dirty looks and are enjoying the first few days of summer recess.
But what about cubicle-dwellers? Why can’t we say goodbye to offices and reports and bosses’ dirty looks and have a recess from work?
If that sounds like an idea whose time has come, mark your calendars for this Thursday.
That’s right, June 16 has been designated as “Recess At Work Day.”
According to this inspired holiday’s Web site, www.RecessAtWorkDay.com, time should be set aside on Thursday to let all employees do a little playing.
“That means everyone — even the boss! Call it team building. Call it employee morale. Just make sure you call it fun,” the Web site says.
“Today is your day to relive your youth, create team spirit, increase employee morale and just have some fun. All employees should go outside and play. Fly a kite. Play tag. Juggle. Bring a jump rope with you. Play catch. Toss a football. The possibilities are endless.”
The holiday was founded by Rich DiGirolamo of Connecticut, who describes himself as “The Big Kid, Speaker, Coach, Fun Director.”
DiGirolamo says on his Web site that he works with organizations looking to increase employee morale and reduce turnover.
“Employee morale is not high these days in many industries,” he says on the site. “We live in a very different economy; a different job market. Globalization. Outsourcing. Workers are being asked to do more, work longer hours and sacrifice their personal lives way too often.
“Recess At Work Day is a simple way to thank employees and make them feel valued.”
I’m all for DiGirolamo’s idea. I firmly believe that it helps a business “team” if its members get out of the office every now and then and “play” for a while.
However, I’m not so much a proponent of playing catch or juggling. As I’ve mentioned before in this space, our four-person business team here at the Deseret Morning News favors movie-watching as a “recess” activity.
In fact, we’ve been attending the occasional movie for more than three years now. And I think it’s fair to say I have seen many benefits from these excursions.
First, the members of our team have grown to know each other better by interacting outside of the work environment. I think that has helped us understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and as a result, has improved our ability to work together.
Second, the movie trips have been a great morale builder — for me and the three reporters. Even if the movie we see is a stinker, we are able to laugh at it. And just getting out of the office is always fun.
Finally, I believe that allowing people to take a break from the daily grind every now and then improves productivity in the long run. The reporters on the Morning News business desk all work hard every day to match (and, often, beat) the competition, which has several more reporters on its business desk than we do. Taking a break every now and then helps them recharge their batteries and prepare for the stressful, deadline-driven world of newspaper reporting. And if they need to work the occasional extra hour, they don’t complain (much), because they know they’ll get it back in a future “recess.”
So there you have my justifications for supporting work breaks like those promoted by Recess At Work Day. I know this may be difficult in some occupations, but I suggest you managers out there consider offering some kind of “recess” every now and then.
And if you decide to give it a shot, Thursday may be a good day to start.
If you do, please drop me a line to let me know how it goes, or to share your ideas for employee morale-building.
Of course, if you have a financial question, I want to hear those, too. Please send them by e-mail to gkratz@desnews.com or by regular mail to the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.

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© 2018 Rich DiGirolamo. All rights reserved. rich@richdigirolamo.com