The old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is appropriate when discussing fun in the workplace. A study found that just over 80 percent of employees at companies that ranked as ‘amazing workplaces’, described their office environments as ‘fun.’.
The Oxford Dictionary defines fun as light-hearted pleasure, enjoyment, or amusement. At work, it can mean an exciting and exhilarating employee experience. A sense of fun brings enjoyment to the tasks that make up your workload. Enjoying what you do means you will be more focused on your work and gives a sense of purpose to even the most mundane jobs.
The fun factor starts at the top
The fun factor helps raise productivity and improves the bottom line on many levels. It’s not all play – it’s a business decision. Having a playful atmosphere as part of the company culture isn’t only about attracting bright, energetic, young talent. Studies show that play at work can boost creativity and productivity across the board.
Research has also shown that encouraging employees to have fun at work results in them taking fewer sick days, staying longer, and working harder because they are enjoying their work. That’s certainly something for executives to consider.
Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Creating an environment where great work is done is about injecting fun into the very fabric of the organization so that all staff love what they do. Fun needs to be seeded throughout the whole culture of the business. Bringing fun into meetings and tasks can be a start. Breaking down big projects into small manageable or winnable pieces with rewards attached can be a fun way to work. Figuring out what your team responds to and how to bring fun into their world is all it takes to begin on the road to becoming an amazing workplace.
Fun and productivity
When we find tasks enjoyable, we’re more eager to dig in and complete them. Make time for joy and laughter in the workplace and see how much more engaged the employees of the organization are. Work is fun. And that makes all the difference.
At LinkedIn, large tabletop games are available for workers to blow off steam between answering emails and calls. Instead of sitting at a desk or in a cubicle, they play football or ping-pong. Zynga also provides games that staff can play during working hours. Their employees are often found trying to beat the highest score on the arcade games in the hallways of their offices.
Google goes a step further. They have days where employees go bowling or scale a climbing wall rather than work on anything at all. There are a host of activities to choose from at the search engine’s main campus in California. Some Google employees choose to be paid to play beach volleyball for the day. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Instead of sifting through emails and spreadsheets, you could be in the sunshine spiking a ball into the ground and pretending to be Maverick and Goose doing cool reverse hi-fives and wearing aviators while getting paid.
KnowBe4, the tech unicorn based in Florida, has some very unusual job titles — such as Development of Fun and Shenanigans and the Jester of Hijinx! Their job is to inject fun and playfulness into the company’s everyday operations.
The giants are all different, but the fun factor is core to their endeavors. Science supports this approach. The National Institute for Play found that making play a regular part of life supported mental health, improved one’s ability to relate to others, and increased one’s drive and hopes for the future. 79 percent of graduates felt that having fun at work was important. 44 percent of them said that fun in the workplace would increase their work ethic.
Environmental cues like having a pool table in the hallway or games available in the office certainly encourage playful behavior. However, it is the people in a business who make it fun. It is their behavior and attitude that bring light and joy. Fun is infectious and the more of your employees that catch the fun bug the better life will be both in and out of the office for everyone concerned. Make fun a priority for your business and your workplace will be a productive and happy one.
As the great Aristotle said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”.