Somewhere along the line, the idea of a serious, no-fun-zone workplace became institutionalized among American businesses. For a long time, that meant no intersection between “work” and “fun.” Employees were obliged to spend a considerable portion of their lives in an environment where people rarely smiled or laughed or otherwise took comfort and inspiration in each other’s company.
In today’s more enlightened world, such hard-and-fast distinctions no longer pertain, or don’t have to. Forward-thinking employers understand that “fun stems from laughter and camaraderie,” as The UPS Store notes, and that in such environments “your employees are more likely to execute on the mission and values that you’ve established, and customers are likely to notice.”
Equally important, a fun and productive workplace is one that will probably see higher morale and greater employee retention. These two factors alone make a change from a super-serious company culture worth considering.
Here are suggestions to build an element of fun into your workplace:
Give your hardworking team a fun assignment.
Let’s assume you have a strong, cohesive team of employees with a proven track record for getting things done. What about assigning them a less formal goal, such as ideas for redecorating the workplace, where to hold next year’s holiday event, or new strategies on recruiting employees?
Objectives like these can encourage employees to bond and forge new friendships, which certainly contributes to a healthier, more upbeat environment.
Offer work-related opportunities to learn and grow.
Employees who feel “stuck” in their positions obviously aren’t having any fun at work. This can lead to an increased sense of disengagement that’s often the first step towards leaving the business.
Bright Ideas for Business suggests enabling employees to “follow their own passions, including cross-training in roles that interest them” and devise a process “where new ideas are encouraged and quickly implemented,” with no bad consequences in case those ideas don’t pan out. Employees who feel valued for their willingness to grow are more likely to feel engaged and uplifted at work.
Celebrate achievements, large and small.
Employees thrive in an atmosphere of appreciation and celebration. So regardless of the scale of a particular achievement or milestone, making a big deal out of it lets people feel recognized for their hard work. “Small wins indicate forward progress, which serves everyone’s interest.”
Put some life into your on-site meetings.
Meetings sometimes fall under the definition of “not-fun,” but there’s no law dictating that has to always be so. What if everyone gathered for a walking meeting? You can tackle key issues at the outset, then as people become more relaxed, open the discussion into a brainstorming challenge that seeks to address current issues and opportunities. We’re all more creative when we’re up and moving around.
Do stuff together.
Hosting a group activity off-site that’s unrelated to the business can do wonders for morale and team-building. Explore opportunities like attending a community sporting event, sponsoring a charity run, hitting the local bowling alley, etc. “Outings don’t have to break the bank,” as Entrepreneur notes, “just be something everyone is interested in.”
Fun and productivity aren’t disconnected concepts. Employers ask people to spend large chunks of their lives in a workplace environment. It seems reasonable to identify ways for these individuals to have some fun, while of course always getting their jobs done.For more ideas on enlivening your workplace, check out our free TAB whitepaper, “Easy Ways to Improve Your Company Culture.”