Ben & Jerry's

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Ben & Jerry's Joy Gang

History: The Ben & Jerry's Joy Gang was started in 1987 in response to the increasing demands upon our employees. Our first Joy activities included pizza and 15 minute massages for our manufacturing employees who were working 12 hour marathon shifts. Jerry suggested that we should try to make fun an official part of our company culture. The Joy Committee changed its name to the "Joy Gang" due to the fact that we felt the word "committee" was too official.

Mission: To infuse joy into everything we do.

The Joy Gang approaches fun at work in 3 ways:

Joy Grants: cash grants of up to $500.00 to accommodate an idea that will bring more joy to a particular department. (A hot cocoa machine for our freezer crew, a stereo for our production crew, etc.)

Joy Events: planned, announced, organized activities that are sponsored by the Joy Gang. They usually include food, fun & prizes.
Joy Guerilla Tactics: secretive activities that are not previously announced, which are intended to surprise employees.

Doing Joy: A Compendium of Gang Activities at Ben & Jerry's

Name That Face Contest: Employees brought in photos of themselves from their past which were displayed in a collage on the company bulletin board for other employees to guess who was who.

Holiday Gift Box Exchange: Every year Ben & Jerry's exchanges ice cream products for products from our vendors and various other Vermont businesses. A small group of employees volunteers a few hours of their time to make up boxes filled with nuts, cheese, coffee, donuts, etc. for all of their coworkers to take home over the holidays. One of the items we always get is a package of smoked hamhocks -- most employees enjoy them as an ingredient for soups and stews, but there are always a few folks who seem totally perplexed when they receive their first hunks 'o hocks, so over the years the hocks have gained a sort of legendary notoriety.

Manufacturing Appreciation Day: To recognize the ongoing efforts of Ben & Jerry's Manufacturing Cluster, non-manufacturing employees dressed up as their favorite production, freezer, or maintenance worker.

Barry Manilow Day: In celebration of Barry Manilow's birthday (an otherwise uneventful day), Manilow tunes were played in the lunchroom and occasionally over the paging system. Manilow buttons were distributed, posters were hung, and we voted on our favorite Manilow tune. "At The Copa" won hands down.

Halloween Contest: In what promises to be a Joy-ous event to be celebrated for years to come, employees are encouraged to (and do) come to work in zany, weird costumes on Halloween. Prizes are given for best and weirdest costumes, and a costume parade is held. A big incentive for dressing up was offered once in 1991, when Ben & Jerry's 6' 6" Chief Operating Officer promised to wear a pink ballerina's tu-tu if at least 75 employees wore costumes. The employees rose to meet the challenge and Chuck, our bearded ballerina, danced across the front patio of our Waterbury plant.

Valentine's Day: The Joy Gang distributes any combination of carnations, chocolates, candy conversation hearts and hand signed valentines to employees to let them know how much we love them.

Jungle Party: One year, a particularly wild group of employees dressed up in whatever jungle outfits they had hanging in their closets and went to a party featuring jungle music, limbo contests, and prizes such as a trip for two to The Great Adventure ... all courtesy of the Joy Gang.

Elvis Presley Day: Our most popular event to date, complete with an Elvis look-alike contest, an Elvis impersonator who serenaded the employees, an Elvis trivia contest, and Elvis movie classics running on the VCR in the lunchroom.

Mask Making: Joy commissioned a local mask-maker to come and show interested employees how to make plaster casts of their faces and decorate them with all sorts of bizarre and beautiful gew-gaws.

Late Night Joy Party: To...
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