In today’s workplace, threatening people has proven to be ineffective as a motivational technique, while paying them a higher salary has only shown short-term success. On the other hand, making the workplace more enjoyable has a track record of effecting real change.
Most people understand that work has to be done at work, but what many people forget is that work can also be enjoyable by ensuring fun has a place in the office. I have become convinced that making work fun makes everything more enjoyable while also boosting worker’s ability to perform their duties and provide quality service under increasingly demanding work conditions.
But how do you go about introducing elements of fun into your work setting? Here are ten things to focus on to ensure a positive, friendly, and fun work environment.
Give Up the Notion that Professionalism Means Being Serious
It’s possible to take yourself lightly and still be competent and productive. Start to promote the benefits of humor at work. Laughter releases endorphins with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise. Laughing also increases oxygen intake and boosts immunity, while continuously relieving stress. Humor also levels the playing field to create an atmosphere that encourages honest dialogue, open communication, and increased risk-taking. Creating more equality like this shows people respect and builds pride in their work.
Add Some Fun to Meetings
Set aside time in every meeting for a little bit a fun, like starting a meeting with a humorous joke or story, to encourage a more casual demeanor.
Create a joke board or email chain. Look for tools to disseminate fun and funny things on a daily basis. While it is important to keep jokes workplace appropriate and fairly benign, there is humor out there that everyone can find funny.
Let Customers Know You Are a Fun Company
Do something just for fun (organize customer events, dress for fun, share humorous things with customers) and give employees tools to create a playful relationship with customers. This makes work more enjoyable for employees and it strengthens the relationship with customers. Disneyland is a good example of having the same kind of approach. Employees are part of an entertainment experience, and they aren’t just doing a job.
Respond to Fun When it Happens
Funny things occur all the time and some might find it hard to stop and respond. Natural spontaneous humor is a blessing. Encourage your employees to stop and take a moment to give themselves and customers an opportunity to see the amusement in the event.
Start slowly with a few activities and communicate the company desire to create a more relaxed workplace. This can be a casual dress code, employee events, fun activities on Fridays, or simply the space to allow for employees to just be themselves. When an employee is able to have fun at work, it creates an atmosphere where work and fun mix, and more work gets done.
Put Fun Items and Activities Throughout the Office
This allows people to take their mind off of the seriousness of work for a short period, so they come back to work with a more positive and balanced perspective. We have games, lounge areas, and a “backyard” to hang out and bbq, which all help balance out the work at hand.
Encourage Employees to Develop Their Own Style of Fun
Create a fun “humor in the workplace code of conduct” to remind people of the importance of having fun, but in a safe, professional way.
Create a Few Rituals or Traditions That Encourage People to Have Fun
Rituals and fun workplace traditions create a sense of shared history and shared team experience. They also give employees a chance to lighten up, have something to look forward to, and something to reminisce about.
Employees shouldn’t be so consumed with work that it affects their family life and leisure activities. Find fun ways for employees to “unload” at the end of the day or week. Create a ritual like writing a “to do” list and posting it on the bulletin or white board. By doing this, you show your staff your commitment to not thinking about the to do list until the next day.
The key is to make sure you have a relaxed enough working environment where it’s okay for these steps to happen! Remember, fun in the workplace is both a tool AND the end result of working in a great, inspiring, “want to” workplace environment where people feel valued, respected, and trusted, and where people feel free to simply be themselves.