What is it about Frozen that has kids so enraptured? Nearly every modern day kids’ movie features good triumphing over evil, catchy songs, slapstick comedy, and great animation; Frozen is no different. How did this particular story become a cultural phenomenon?
If you’re like me and you’re a dad with a young daughter, you hear the songs from the Disney smash hit Frozen every time your head hits the pillow. You hear it when you wake up. You hear it when you’re heading into work. You hear it literally everywhere you go. Sometimes you’re convinced it has penetrated your psyche, and it won’t let go!
With my opening question in mind and, of course, Let it Go as my soundtrack, I started a little project – I tried to make meaning of Frozen and apply it to driving meaning in the workplace. And so, with apologies to cultural theorists around the web, here is a top 6 countdown for making your employee volunteer program (EVP) as popular as Disney’s Frozen:
6. Pick a Theme Song
OK, not literally, but by now you either turn up the volume on Let it Go, singing along unabashedly, or you hate it so much you kind of want to stab the radio with a giant icicle. Either way, its central place as a running theme in the movie is undeniable. Just like Frozen, the best EVPs have a focus area or a theme running through them. Choosing a focus area that combines employees’ interests with corporate initiatives will enable a common theme that’s meaningful to everyone. It also enables meaningful partnerships with nonprofit organizations.
Maddie and Zoe sing “Let It Go” from Frozen from Aaron Mendez on Vimeo.
5. Support Your Supporting Characters
In Frozen, Olaf is the wisecracking, clumsy snowman that provides comic relief to a serious tale. Your EVP needs to pay attention to the importance of supporting characters who can help take your program to the next level. Maybe someone in HR can help communicate the importance of an event to new recruits. Perhaps an employee was moved by a recent volunteering experience and would be happy to share the story. Either way, pay attention to who they are and recognize them for their contribution to the program’s success.
4. “Let Go” of the T-Shirt
Somehow the Frozen hysteria not yet permeated every t-shirt, lunchbox, and children’s toilet seat; the film’s merchandising hasn’t reached the epic levels of the film itself (though I am told this is not the case in the US). Perhaps the marketers here in Canada have focused on the themes and music, or maybe I’m just not spending enough time at the mall. Either way, quality merchandising doesn’t makes a bad product good, and the same goes for volunteer programs. T-shirts are fun, but meaningful experiences are better. Let go of the style and colour of the event’s cosmetics and focus on making the event meaningful.
3. Consider the Nontraditional
For the first time in history, a major movie featuring royalty doesn’t feature a prince saving a helpless princess. What best practice can be implemented in an unconventional way? Calculated risks can get people excited about your community programs. Join forces with unorthodox partners and use unexpected communication channels. Remember, email blasts will not get employees to show up to events, but relationships will.
2. Keep it Simple
Kids’ movies teach us that the best stories are simple enough for a toddler to understand. We adults, on the other hand, tend to overthink things and complicate matters. Three out of four of your colleagues don’t volunteer and don’t have any expectations–they just want simple opportunities to have a meaningful experience. Create the space for employees to show up and allow them to walk away with a great story to share.
1. Remember: In the End, It’s All About the Story
Human beings love stories. We love to hear them and we love to tell them. If you ask any Disney crazed five-year old about Frozen, he or she will tell you the story of two sisters and how they saved each other from a frozen world. The most important thing a volunteer can do is share their story with friends and colleagues. Provide volunteers ample space to tell their stories and use simple technology to help amplify it.
Are there other lessons you learned from Frozen? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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