There are still many business owners and managers who believe that having fun in the workplace is a foreign concept. That work is and should be hard and that productivity is the result of firm management and nothing else. One after the other study is, however, proving these people wrong. How is this possible?
Why Fun At Work Matters
Below we take a closer look at why your workers having more fun at the workplace will actually benefit your organization.
Having fun at the workplace improves communication and the transfer of skills
A study that appeared in the Journal of Vocational Behavior in February 2017 found that allowing your workers to have fun in the workplace could actually improve the way they do their jobs. The researchers found a direct link between the amount of fun people have at work and informal learning - a common way in which workers acquire new skills that enhance the way they do their jobs.
According to one of the authors of the study, Professor Michael Tews, this is because informal learning mostly takes place outside a classroom situation where small groups of individuals are interacting.
Spending more time with co-workers in a fun and relaxed environment encourages trust in each other and stimulates open discussion. People who are friends and not just colleagues communicate better and also work better together.
Happy workers tend to be healthier
Absenteeism causes businesses in the US and around the world billions of dollars every year. Some of these people are genuinely sick, others just become so anxious and stressed that they desperately need a break.
The other side of this coin is that workers who are having fun in the workplace are much less likely to become victims of anxiety and stress. Research has shown that on average their heart rate variability is lower than their colleagues who are highly stressed. And this variability has been directly linked with an increased risk of disease.
People who are having fun are more creative
It’s a well-known fact that young kids typically learn better when they are playing. The same is true for adults: their ability to learn is better when they are relaxing and enjoying what they are doing. They become more energetic and enthusiastic and start sharing knowledge and skills more freely. This creates the perfect breeding ground for innovation and creativity.
Having fun in the workplace improves productivity
In 2015 the Center for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at the University of Warwick published research showing that happy workers were between 12% and 20% more productive than their less happy counterparts. When an employee feels unhappy or sad, his or her motivation is reduced. These workers start to communicate less with other workers and generally speaking their productivity nosedives.
Happy workers are more likely to promote your company
Employees who enjoy going to work, who feel that they belong to a happy family where both the bosses and their fellow workers are interested in their lives, are much more likely to carry a positive message about their workplace into the world.
This can play a powerful role in promoting your company’s brand and helping to create a corporate image of a business that cares about its employees and its customers.
How To Make Work Fun For Employees
If you are a fairly traditional business owner or manager, you might feel at a loss when it comes to creating a fun workplace without everything descending into mayhem and anarchy. Relax. You don’t have to buy a clown suit and learn how to do handstands on top of the flagpole every morning. Below are a couple of easy ways in which you can start to build a happy, fun workplace.
Introduce games in the break-room
Games do not have to be for kids. And there’s no reason why your break-room should be a place where everyone dreads to go because the atmosphere is so stern and formal. Rather fill that space with fun activities such as board games, Rubik’s cubes, game consoles, etc. Arrange regular quizzes. Let there be music. And give your employees an opportunity to show off their talents for singing, doing magic tricks, etc. Another good idea is to regularly have fun safety games in the workplace. It’s all about creating a family atmosphere, a feeling of belonging.
Encourage employees to socialize outside the workplace
Encouraging workers to socialize after hours is another great way to make them feel part of one big family. An example is to arrange a regular team building activity, or to attend a show, or go to the movies together once a month. You can’t force people to be friends but you can create opportunities where they will get to know each other better. And if they do become friends, chances are they will be happier in their jobs. There will be less friction and productivity will benefit.
Encourage both physical and mental fitness
Many companies nowadays run regular programs to help their workers remain healthy both physically and mentally. A simple example is negotiating a group discount for your staff members with a local gym or fitness instructor. And forking out a few dollars every month to get a mental health specialist to give lectures on dealing with work-related issues can help your employees cope better. Plus it will show that you care.
Celebrate your workers’ victories however small they are
It’s also good to have a system where you publicly reward employees for outstanding achievements, for example, a regular employee appreciation day. It doesn’t have to be about building a rocket that can fly to the moon and back. A job well done can be as simple as meeting a deadline or a target. And the reward can be as basic as taking them for pizzas after work.
In this regard, there should be no secrecy. Don’t let other employees see you take what they might see as a small elite group for dinner. Make sure the reward system is open and that everyone knows why these people are being recognized. It’s also important that everyone has a fair chance to earn recognition - even if it’s for having the brightest smile. There’s nothing worse for morale than the same old clique being invited to the boss’s holiday home time after time.