While conventional wisdom has often reflected an “all work and no play” approach to business, more organizations are recognizing the connection between employee happiness and productivity. This recognition has opened the door to the concept of fun in the workplace.
According to author Gary Keller, studies over the last two decades indicate that happy employees are generally better at their jobs, and workplaces that incorporate fun into their culture create happier and more satisfied employees. Keller, author of The One Thing, says these studies reveal that embracing fun as a workplace value is linked to enhanced motivation, improved task performance, reduced stress, higher job satisfaction and increased productivity.
Jay Steinfeld, the founder and CEO of Blinds.com, is a passionate advocate for a company culture that supports fun on the job, and believes that everyone is happier and more productive when they have fun together. His company won Best Place to Work in Houston, an accolade he ascribes at least in part to his commitment to incorporating fun as a company value. He feels that the success of his organization demonstrates that if your employees aren’t having any fun at work, they’re probably not performing at their highest level.
Many larger companies that are staffed primarily by millennials, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, have made fun the centerpiece of their workplaces, with everything from lavish lunches and free massages to on-site gyms and ping pong tournaments. However, small to mid-size organizations operating on modest budgets are stepping onto the fun bandwagon with a host of ideas that are affordable and relatively easy to implement.
Gary Keller and Jay Steinfeld have compiled lists of suggestions for how to create fun at work without breaking the bank (see How to Have Fun at Work and Why it is Important and 11 Easy Ways to Make Work Fun). Some of their best ideas include:
- Take casual Friday beyond getting to wear jeans to work and incorporate a company provided lunch or a beverage hour at 4pm. to help create a more relaxing environment that encourages interaction among colleagues;
- Have a “decorate your area” contest by giving each employee or each department a nominal allowance and suggesting a theme;
- Celebrate holidays with parties, a cookout or a carnival;
- Have dress-up days on Halloween, Super Bowl or for other special events;
- Have a “bring your pet/kids/parents to work” day;
- Put games in the break room or lunchroom, such as a ping-pong table, a chess set or even a Wii to encourage exercise;
- Hire a photographer to roam the workplace and make a slideshow of the resulting photos to display in your reception area or lunchroom;
- Create a weekly or monthly friendly competition among employees as a fun motivator, with special awards for the winner(s);
- Celebrate a “Fun at Work” day with team building games, motivational speakers, movies, a catered lunch and snacks;
- Create milestones the whole company can celebrate together.
If your employees aren’t having fun at work, the chances are they’re probably not performing at their highest level. Remember, happy workers are productive workers!