All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, or so the saying goes. Last year’s Employee’s Choice Awards from Glassdoor also seemed to suggest that a little fun in the office can go a long way toward making Jack a happy, satisfied worker. Some of the highest rated companies – including LinkedIn, Twitter and Interactive Intelligence – inject challenging work with a significant dose of fun, whether through state-of-the-art break rooms, cookouts or paintball outings.
While small businesses may not be able to afford some of the pricier perks that tech giants such as Google have boasted, there are still plenty of ways to lighten up the atmosphere for employees. Have Fun at Work Day is on the horizon, providing a great excuse to try and bring a little cheer into the daily grind. Not only should companies feel free to get playful for the holiday, they should also take it as an opportunity to enact company-wide changes to make every day an unofficial Fun at Work Day.
Fun in a day
The logic behind the importance of balancing work with fun is that happy employees will approach their job with energy, optimism and a desire to perform well. Without a little bit of rest and relaxation to re-energize the mind and body, employees may become burned out, lose motivation and begin to taper off in terms of productivity. The New York Times has pointed to research that suggests that happy employees are more productive than their less cheery counterparts.
Yet, small businesses should not automatically equate all attempts at office cheer with better productivity and a sterling workplace environment. As The NY Times also noted, office games and party atmospheres foisted by bosses onto employees can also feel like a form of emotional burden, thereby reducing overall levels of staff happiness. In other words, fun is best enjoyed when not forced. Inc. Magazine suggested that employees aren’t just more productive when they’re happy, but they’re also happy when they have work that demands focus.
As such, companies that want to create a welcoming, enjoyable office atmosphere, should find ways to promote positivity and fun in a natural way. Have Fun at Work Day, then, can be seen more as a springboard than a one-off situation. If workers have had a lot of stressful projects recently, use the event as a much-needed break, and a platform for overarching environmental adjustments.
The short and the long of it
To start off a day of enjoyment for employees, small businesses may want to surprise staff with unexpected tokens of appreciation on their desks. Gift baskets filled with healthy food, treats and personalized business gifts – such as coffee mugs and planners could start the day off right. Managers could also post a witty joke or observation on a company whiteboard or via email to brighten spirits. One of the easiest ways to help employees kick back is with food. Organizations could organize a nice lunch or even plan a cocktail hour after work. Bigger ideas, such as Interactive Intelligence’s company-wide cubicle decoration competitions, can be fun ways to spark creativity and invite office personalization.
These ideas should translate into larger scope changes to the company culture. Forbes suggested that a fun environment can come by way of less outright zany plans. According to the magazine, encouraging employees to test their ideas and building strong bonds between teams facilitate passion and communication. They also get employees to interact with one another, giving them an opportunity to work, talk and play with their peers.