Is your workplace a fun place to be? Do you look forward to engaging with your coworkers, with your boss, or your subordinates? Or is your workplace a dull and unpleasant place where people rarely crack a smile? There can be a tendency to equate fun at work with being frivolous and non-productive, but the most effective workplaces are fun workplaces. But how do you maintain high productivity and still make your workplace fun?
The Importance of Fun
Having fun at work with coworkers and supervisors serves an important function for employees and organizations in several ways. Engaging in activities that make us smile and even laugh with one another is not wasting time, but rather it has several important functions. Fun at work
- Reduces stress. Employees under stress will be less creative and more likely to quit. The more stressful the job, the more important it is to build in some fun to combat it.
- Develops trust and good working relationships among employees.
- Encourages creativity and innovation.
- Helps with employee retention. People want to stay at a job that is enjoyable.
- Puts front-line employees in a good mood that improves the customer experience.
Work Is a Stressful Place
Work can be a stressful place. Stress comes from both the tasks that need to be done and from other people. When asked about the most stressful things in life, most people will talk about their jobs. Some of the most stressful aspects of work include:
- Heavy workloads. There is pressure to get work done quickly and pressure to be sure work is done well. These pressures can be incompatible—work fast but do not make mistakes.
- Mistreatment. Being bullied harassed, or insulted by coworkers, leaders, and the public is a major issue for employees in many jobs.
- Organizational Constraints. Lack of adequate material and people resources can make work difficult to get done. Being understaffed, for example, is a common complaint in many industries.
- Poor leadership. Some leaders are nasty and abusive, whereas others are passive and fail to take charge. Both kinds of leaders create stress for their subordinates.
One of the best ways for employees to cope with the stress of the job is through humor. A little levity at work can go a long way to reducing the negative effects of stress. And fun workplaces have employees who support one another through stressful times.
Make Your Workplace Fun
Making your workplace fun does not mean that employees spend the day avoiding work or playing games. It means creating a climate where employees feel relaxed with one another. A fun workplace is one where people feel psychologically safe to be themselves and express their views without being attacked or ridiculed. It is a place where people feel easy enough with one another that they engage in banter and joking around. But how do you make your workplace fun? Here are some tips.
- Leaders set the tone. Leaders need to model the behavior they wish in employees. This means leaders should take care to develop good working relationships with people that build trust. They should encourage employees to engage with one another in a collegial way and make it clear that having a little fun at work is acceptable. This means focusing on the needs of employees and showing concern for their well-being.
- Encourage employees to take breaks. Taking a break means getting away from work tasks and doing something enjoyable. Employees need breaks to recover energy so they can maintain productivity. They need breaks to recover from stress. A recent study showed how doing fun online activities or cyberloafing during the work day, can be helpful to employees in dealing with stress. These activities should be encouraged as long as they are not excessive and interfering with the job.
- Empower employees to take a fun break. In many jobs it is possible to allow employees control over their work versus break time. Sometimes an employee can work 4 hours in a row and be productive. Other times they might need to take a quick recovery break after 30 minutes. Holding employees accountable for results and not time is a good recipe for fun and productivity.
- Organize fun after work activities. Fun activities outside of work, such as happy hours, meals, and other leisure activities (e.g., bowling league) can have important spill-over to work. This is where people can network, build good working relationships, and even come up with creative solutions. An after-work happy hour, whether alcohol is consumed or not, can be a good way to start a weekend.
Keep in mind that people have limited energy and capacity for handling stress. They need breaks throughout the day and after work for relaxation and recovery of energy that enables them to work their best. They also need to develop good working relationships with others at work. It adds value to make your workplace fun as it will help employees cope with the demands of work, build rapport with one another, and come to work eager to face the day.
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