Last week, I wrote about the role of creativity in the workplace. One of the things proven to increase creativity is fun! That might not be your first association with the workplace, but maybe it should be. Employees who enjoy their work more do better, personally and professionally. Fun is a worthwhile investment for any organization. Read on to find out how you can blend playfulness and productivity at work.
Benefits of Fun at Work
First, it’s important to understand the end goal. When you bring fun into the workplace, of course employees will like it. But it’s about more than how people feel. In fact, adding some joy to the workday can affect individual employees, their teams, and their employer. This Forbes article and this HBR article highlight some of the effects on individuals. This first one may be totally obvious. Employees who have more fun at work are less likely to get stressed and burnt out. Maybe that explains why they are also more open-minded to new ideas and more engaged in their work. This means that, contrary to popular belief, distractions from work can actually improve your work performance.
As true as that is on an individual level, it’s the same for teams. Fun in the workplace is associated with coworkers treating one another better. And, as this article from Indeed points out, it increases trust. When coworkers share more than just their work assignment, they get to know one another as people. This is important for good communication and collaboration in the workplace. When people feel they can relax in front of their colleagues, negative pressure is erased. Instead, people can work together in a way that supports one another’s strengths.
Finally, all these effects trickle down to the bottom line. Companies will see that happier, healthier workers don’t need as many sick days. Moreover, hiring will get a whole lot easier. First, you’ll spend less on hiring because your employees will want to stay. Plus, it’ll be easier to find top talent when you do need to fill a new role. And of course, the fact that fun boosts productivity means employers will see more work getting done when they invest in some of the frills of workplace life.
Hurdles to Switching It Up
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to make work fun for all employees. This article describes some of the main challenges for someone tasked with making work “fun.” For instance, not everyone will be interested in special programming. They may perceive these efforts as an attempt by the company to take away from their personal time. Especially when employees feel compelled to participate, they’re likely to leave with a bad taste in their mouths. Besides all that, you also have to remember a company’s main objective. If people are spending too much time hanging out, who’s going to do the work? Maintaining a balance between work and pleasure isn’t always easy.
On top of that, the pandemic has complicated this challenge. When you plan an event or program, you’ll have to think about what everyone is comfortable with. For instance, some people still won’t want to attend an indoor celebration. On the other hand, many of us are so over Zoom. You may have to provide many options and be flexible about participation. In addition, in the wake of the Great Resignation, many workers have had more work piled on them. This means some people are just too exhausted to enjoy work activities. It can feel challenging to please everyone.
What You Can Do
Fortunately, there are some steps every individual can take to make work more fun for themselves, regardless of your employer. When you take the initiative on your own, you don’t have to please anyone else! Start by making sure that you take breaks in your workday. Schedule them in your calendar if you need to. Whatever it takes, be sure you’re getting some time away from your work in between tasks.
If you want, you can use your breaks as part of the gamification suggested by this article. That’s one way you can brighten up your workday. Basically, it just means that you view your tasks as challenges to beat and celebrate your wins. Break up large tasks into smaller steps to make this realistic. When you finish each step, reward yourself! Take a break, eat a healthy snack, or go socialize for a bit before returning to your desk. Figure out what recharges you and go do that!
Some additional ideas that work for others include listening to music and switching up where you’re working. Everyone’s tastes vary. You may prefer classical music or EDM, the park or a busy coffee shop. Whatever your taste, figure out what makes you happy during your workday and make it happen.
What Your Organization Can Do
If you’re a leader in the workplace, there’s also a lot more you can do for everyone in your team or organization. This Forbes article has some great ideas to get you started with the workplace fun. For instance, anything that involves a social aspect will probably be popular. Everyone’s looking to grow their network, and having good relationships with our colleagues is important to most of us. Give people a chance to chat, compete, play a game, or celebrate together. It’s bound to be a hit!
At the same time, know that fun doesn’t have to be scheduled and budgeted for. It can happen organically when you set some clear intentions. For example, introducing more humor at work contributes to a more relaxed atmosphere. You can also create opportunities for employees to celebrate one another that are constantly available. Indeed has some great ideas to make that happen, like a Wall of Fame in the office. Feel free to start with something small. The important thing is that your employees will get to relax a bit and enjoy their workday.
Some Ideas to Get the Fun Started
If you’re set on planning some more fun events but are lacking inspiration, I’ve got you. Based on lists compiled by Indeed and Glassdoor, here are some of my favorite ideas.
If you’re looking to celebrate with your employees, there are many ways to do it. For instance, Here at Pyrus, we celebrate employees’ birthdays with company-wide announcements. If you have the budget, you can also celebrate holidays with company parties. And if that’s totally unrealistic for your workplace, consider just decorating a little! And don’t forget the most important holiday. Did you know that International Fun at Work Day is celebrated annually on April 1st?
Interested in sparking some competition? Get groups of employees to compete against one another in sports, puzzle solving, or anything else! Even monthly trivia questions will get people feeling competitive. You can probably provide small prizes to the winners, like water bottles with the company logo.
Of course, the classic category of fun at work is focused on team-building. Here’s where the escape room, scavenger hunt, and day of service as a team come in. Another more creative way to help folks get to know one another may be through talent show-like presentations. Glassdoor suggests that you can invite employees to present on their special skills during lunch to interested coworkers. And that’s just one more of a long, long list of ideas I couldn’t cover fully here.
Whatever your role at work, I hope this post inspires you to welcome some goofiness into your workday. Have a fun day at work today!