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  • Melissa Sims

What Happened to the Fun?

With deadlines, projects, and a sometimes ‘heavy’ environment, it is easy to forget about keeping ourselves happy in the workplace. We are there to do a job, to manage staff, to make the numbers, and to keep the higher ups happy. Head down, get it done, go home and “live” your life. But more and more, companies are turning to more casual and fun environments to increase engagement and productivity.

When was the last time you had fun at work? Although many can see fun at work as a distraction, research shows that a little fun in the workplace can increase purpose, engagement, and creative thinking. In turn, this will increase employee retention and reduce turnover. When we can look forward to going to work, look forward to completing our tasks, and find joy when we are at work, we can truly work to live, instead of living to work. Our jobs don’t turn into chores we have to complete on a daily basis, rather they become part of the fabric of our being, and how wonderful it would be if it were joy and excitement it was bringing.

Not to toot our own horn, but I think part of what makes our workshops with leaders and teams so successful is that we love to bring fun, while still teaching some valuable nuggets to help you succeed. If you were at our last leadership retreat, I think you can agree that it was filled with fun — but you also hopefully walked away with some great new strategies to help your team.

A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review found that eighty-one percent of employees at companies ranked as “great” described their office environments as fun. At companies that applied for inclusion — but didn’t make the list — only 62% of employees did the same. That’s a big gap. “Great” ranked companies are onto something here.

Workplace culture defines a team’s success. If the culture isn’t defined, or lacks positivity, the results are obvious. Being a sports mom, I have directly witnessed the effect of team culture and how massively it impacts not only individual happiness but success. My daughter’s teams always had bonding events and the girls all had incredible amounts of fun and laughter. My son’s teams, on the other hand, don’t have nearly as much fun. They love the sport, but don’t have team bonding events, don’t laugh a whole lot, and don’t seem to be having much fun. I am sure you can guess which one has more success.

If you can not only lead your team to have more fun, but to be more engaged and productive, and in turn more enjoyable to be around, wouldn’t that be incredible? Here are some ideas on how you can inspire a little more fun in the office.

  1. Host theme days at work. Dress as your boss, dress as your favorite TV character, etc. It might seem silly at first, but doing things like this relaxes the atmosphere and encourages openness and even supportive behavior.

  2. Decorate the office each month in a different motif. It doesn’t have to be holiday-related, as we want to encourage inclusivity. Seasonal decor is always fun, and you can even award prizes for the best decorated office/desk/cubicle.

  3. Swear jars. We all have our moments, don’t we? Why not make it lighthearted? These can be pretty fun, and at the end of a month, use the funds to treat the office to a treat.

  4. Turn tasks into a game. Yes, this will likely inspire some competition, but as long as you can keep it civil (we know how competitive you can be!), it can be really fun and even make your team more productive. It encourages employees to finish tasks while having fun and feeling accomplished.

  5. Team outings. Budget could be an issue here, but you don’t have to break the bank to have a team outing. Picnic lunch Mondays, Pot-luck Fridays…anything to get the group together, and getting together over food usually creates great conversation and bonding.

The point here is that teams that take pride in what they do, because they love where they work, tend to be more productive and happier employees. Which, in turn, makes for a much more enjoyable place to work, and makes your job a lot easier. Work no longer really feels like work. It is an extension of our life that we can look forward to each day and experience the joy that brought us to this profession in the first place.


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