Does fun have any place at work? Is it constructive or is it distracting? It seems that for the past few decades the idea of work was to stamp out all joy by forcing people to inhabit grey offices and wear drab suits. What was the purpose of this? Productivity free from distractions? Because it turns out the opposite is true. Workers who feel free to express joy and have fun are far more productive and creative than their drab counterparts. Have a look at some of these statistics about employees who have fun in the workplace:
- They are 43% more productive than their unhappy counterparts
- Take 19% less sick leave,
- Produce 33% higher profitability,
- Experience 125% less burnout
- Stay longer with 51% lower turnover. (Amanda Gore 2014)
Part of the make-up of a happy, healthy, engaged employee is a sense of fun. Not the kind that distracts everyone from the task at hand, but the kind of fun that energizes everyday situations. So here are 4 steps to introduce a bit of fun into your workplace:
1. Encourage collaboration
Your team will generate far more interesting and innovative ideas when they work together, combining their strengths and bouncing ideas off one another. First of all you have to allow time for that collaboration and idea generation. Brainstorming, or better yet, a mini-debate about your ideas allows better ideas to flow. The upside, these activities are fun! They allow people to do what people like to do; create together.
2. Give others permission to have fun
Fear of what others think or F.O.W.O.T is something that everyone learns steadily throughout their lives. Particularly in the workplace with it’s strict ideas of what is and is not appropriate. When we constantly filter our speech and actions, we can start limiting our ability to feel joy for fear of seeming ‘inappropriate’. As a leader you have the ability to make fun appropriate. As an employee, you too have power to revolutionize your office dynamic by being your happiest most optimistic self. Stress makes a monster of most of us, however there are ways to minimize it’s damaging effects, have a look at this Forbes article on 12 ways to eliminate stress at work.
3. Spend time together outside of the office
The idea that you should not mix business with pleasure has its merits. Being good friends with colleagues can lead to some awkward situations, can damage existing friendships and makes it harder to leave an organization that is not progressing your career. However, for the most part having work friends actually improves your performance, your resilience, your happiness and your salary. When you work with friends you are more committed to excellence, you care less about fitting in and can exert more mental energy on the task at hand. You also feel more confident giving praise and criticism, allowing better ideas to flourish.
So what can you do to have more work friends. Go to lunch together, organize Friday afternoon drinks or join a social sports team. You'll be amazed how much these little fun things improve your workday.
4. Engage in fun team building activities
Engaging in any kind of team building is great for your team dynamics, lines of communication and team processes. But most of all it encourages incorporating fun into all of your activities. Think about the last team building activity you did. You were probably amazed by your team’s ability to grapple with a new situation so quickly through so much laughter! One of our hilarious new activities Push It! is a competitive trivia-style tablet-based game that will have your team in stitches by the end of the night. Another great collaborative activity in which teams can let loose their creativity is T-shirt Masterpiece, it builds cohesion and aligns the team with one vision. Having a close, social team is a great advantage to your company so don't neglect team building games for fun.
Enjoy the results of a fun workplace
Think about the best job you ever had (hopefully you are in it right now). What made it special? Was it the work you were doing, or the people you were doing it with? It was probably some combination of the two. You may feel like the group you are in are incapable of having fun, but perhaps they are just too scared to express their joy in a work setting. Whether you are the leader of your team or a fellow colleague, it is time for your to encourage fun in your workplace.