Ever have one of those bosses who guides the team back to business a minute and thirty seconds into goofing off? From the boss’s perspective, he’s paying a lot of money for a whole roomful of employees to have a chuckle, a chuckle they could just save for after work. It’s like an extra paid break and that’s just not fair, right? But from the employee’s perspective, the time they spend at work is nearly half of their waking lives and the expectation to work seriously the whole time, leave friendships outside the office, and only look up from work once per day at lunch is the fast track to burn out.
So who is right? The boss who doesn’t want to pay for the time his employees spend having fun with each other? Or the employee who succumbs to his human desire to laugh, play, and banter?
In the grand scheme of things, the boss probably loses if he puts a cork in it too often and I don’t mean he loses a few bucks on every pay check. He’ll lose his employees if he’s not careful. A few minutes of play can go a long way towards productivity and retention. Here’s what those few minutes can do for an office:
- Add joy to the work environment
- Build bonds between coworkers and lasting friendships
- Give the employees more of a sense of belonging
- Make work a place employees look forward to going day after day
- Improve overall opinion of the company
- Increase happiness, which improves productivity
Whether or not these exist in the work environment can really mean the difference between the success or failure of a company. People just want to escape dull work environments. They feel unhappy, they want to go home early, they can’t wait till Friday, they look for new jobs and better opportunities, and ultimately, they trash talk the company. If you want your company to succeed in the long term you don’t want unhappy employees so sucking it up and letting employees enjoy a few minutes of banter and laughter here or there is just smart. Call it a business expense like utilities. The company isn’t going to get far without electricity and it’s not going to get far without content employees either.
How to Have Fun at Work
If your employees have spent decades complaining about the office environment, about other annoying coworkers, about specific tasks they hate doing, waiting for the weekend, hating Mondays, feeling slightly better on Wednesdays, and finally cracking a smile on Fridays, your office needs an fun overhaul. Adding some fun in the workplace can improve not only your workplace but your life too.
After all, life isn’t about the weekends. It’s about each and every moment that we live. If 40 hours of moments are lost to boredom and dread each week, life is not truly being lived. If only 2 days of the week are worth looking forward to, then a large part of life is lost.
So how do you add fun in the workplace? Here are some ideas!
Ten Tips for Improving the Work Environment:
- Encourage friendships – Friendships have been shown to improve an employee’s opinion about the company, increase the length of tenure by two to three times, and improve workforce profitability.
- Invite the family to come hang out sometimes – Kids are fun and one short visit can heighten the mood all week.
- Bring your dogs – Animals are healing and taking a minute to throw a ball is a great way to have some fun.
- Take exercise breaks – Exercise creates endorphins and endorphins make us happy! A positive attitude can go a long way towards productivity. Make it social by turning the exercise breaks into a contest of strength or endurance.
- Joke around – There are boundaries of course. Racist and Sexist jokes should be avoided or the whole effort could backfire. But good healthy jokes, lighten people’s spirits.
- Eat – People really like eating. They like eating for free and they like eating together. Provide snacks and encourage employees to take lunches together.
- Install office games – Ping pong, a puzzle table, or other games can turn around company culture quick. None of these activities even have to last longer than 5 minutes to be worth it.
- Work in teams instead of alone – Many of us get caught up in our own work, we think we work better alone, and we don’t want to waste the time of our coworkers sharing work we could easily accomplish alone, but this can be a mistake. Working with friends feels good and collaborating inspires new ideas.
- Be social! – This is the part that some bosses really hate, but it’s important to remember that humans are social animals. We need to be social. Being social is directly correlated to our happiness. If a person finds they are not happy at work, they will move on to the next job. And then the boss will be stuck hiring and training all over again, which is expensive and damaging to morale.
- Celebrate accomplishments – When employees do a good job, let the team know about it and let other employees join in and congratulate the employee.