It should be obvious that a fun workplace is a better workplace. Studies have shown that when people are having fun at work, they’re more likely to work harder, stay longer and generally take better care of their organization. Thus, business leaders should be inclined to create a fun atmosphere that produces these effects.
However, there remains an important question: how much fun is the right amount of fun? Many leaders avoid putting too much effort into creating fun for fear they’ll veer too far into Michael Scott territory and disrupt productivity. Fortunately, there are a few tried-and-true methods for making a workplace more fun:
Too many people try to avoid cultivating relationships with coworkers in an effort to keep work and life separate. However, it’s important to remember that humans are a social species, and when we lack social connections, we suffer. Studies show that employee morale increases dramatically when workers develop strong bonds with one another. Additionally, relationships facilitate teamwork, which is vital for productivity.
Business leaders don’t need to be best friends with their employees, but they shouldn’t be afraid of developing personal and meaningful relationships with their workforce. To do this, bosses should listen to their employees and get to know them well enough to understand each worker’s motivations, passions and ambitions. Once workers feel heard and understood, they’ll begin to loosen up and have fun at work.
It’s hard to have fun when a superior is breathing down one’s neck. Constant supervision makes it almost impossible to relax, meaning employees will remained stressed and unlikely to gain the benefits of a fun workplace, no matter how many pinball machines or pizza lunches there are. Instead, leaders should emphasize autonomy in the workplace, which gives employees more space and freedom to feel comfortable not just in their work but in their play, too.
It can be difficult for leaders to let go and allow workers to do their own thing. However, there are a few simple steps leaders can take to help them feel more comfortable with autonomy throughout the organization:
- Let employees set their own schedules
- Let employees set their own deadlines
- Let employees design their own processes
- Ask employees for opinions or feedback
- Ask employees to contribute to department or organizational goals
Plan group outings
Humans thrive with a routine, but over time, routines become stale. Leaders should try to keep the excitement of work alive by scheduling group outings that contribute to relationship-building, skill-building and other efforts that benefit the organization and its people. For example, leaders might schedule volunteer opportunities for staff with a local charity or reserve seats at seminars or lectures in a related field. However, it can be as simple as scheduling department meetings at fun places like:
Not all outings have to be on the company dime; leaders might encourage coworkers to meet up after work for cocktail hour to strengthen bonds. As long as the event isn’t held inside the office or requires typical workplace behavior, it will encourage everyone to have fun.
It’s natural to want to celebrate when good things happen, and hosting celebrations for all manner of positive developments will encourage people to feel connected to one another and the organization as a whole.
Instead of hosting parties only when major holidays roll around, businesses should throw impromptu celebrations when major projects are completed, when a major sale occurs and when any other development benefits the organization. Additionally, it’s a good idea to celebrate individual accomplishments, like employee anniversaries or promotions. Leaders can even supply fun motivational gifts for employees who go above and beyond in their work. Celebrations don’t have to disrupt the workday; they can fit neatly into the lunch hour or occur after quitting time.
Find the humor
Finally, it’s imperative that leaders themselves let loose and have fun. Business leaders don’t just direct operations; they’re role models who set the tone for the workplace. If a leader never laughs or makes jokes, it’s likely that their subordinates won’t, either. There’s humor everywhere — humor that doesn’t hurt feelings or perpetuate harmful systems — and leaders should strive to find it and share it to increase the fun for everyone.
Even if fun didn’t have such positive effects on productivity, business leaders should still strive to help their employees let loose, relax and enjoy themselves at work — it’s just a human thing to do.