Work isn't Supposed to be Fun?

Posted by Cathy Reilly

iStock-690855708FunAtWork Jan. 18, 2018.jpg


Let’s question that

How often have you heard that statement in the past?  What about “That’s why they call it work”? Thankfully, that view’s been changing over recent years across organizations. In fact, I found fun working in the Navy, my first real job. Saying this was the land of rules and regimentation is putting it mildly. So how on earth was there any fun on that job?

Fortunately, someone in the top ranks recognized the difference between happy workers and unhappy workers. When the staff was happy, work became a joy and we worked even harder. The brass knew that our good moods affected the pace in which we worked, the enthusiasm we showed toward volunteering, and the ties we formed with others on the team. When we felt happy, we had lower stress and less burn out. We even wore the uniform with a bit more pride.

Happiness is becoming a business edge

While the concept of fun = productivity at work still might sound a bit idyllic and kumbaya for some companies, it may be time to take a serious look. Having fun in the workplace makes us happy, which is more than an employee perk. It has a real impact to a company’s costs and profitability. It also attracts job candidates, enriches the employee experience, makes employees want to come to work and perhaps even stay longer. It's now part of a competitive advantage strategy and time to take a look about how fun, or the lack of it, affects your business.

What the experts are finding

Here are some important statistics you should know about fun and happiness in the workplace.

In a study that was conducted at the University of Warwick, Department of Economics by Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr. Eugenio Proto and Dr. Daniel Sgroi , they found there was a link between happiness and productivity which resulted in a 12% increase in productivity that occurred when employees were happy. In some cases, it rose up to 20%. To put that into perspective, Dr. Sgroi explains that “rises of 3% or so are considered very large” when it comes to economic growth and the GDP (Gross Domestic Product; one of the primary indicators for gauging the health of a country’s economy).

Loma Linda University did a study that showed learning abilities were increased by 40% and the stress hormone cortisol was lowered by 45% after test participants watched a laugh-provoking 20 minute video. This indicates that the more relaxed someone is, the more they can absorb information.

When employees are disengaged, which is natural in a work environment devoid of fun, they have a higher absentee rate, 37% in fact. This, according to a study by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallop Organization. They also found accidents rose by 49%, mistakes increased by 60% and profits were lowered by 16%.

Along with productivity rising, creativity, new solutions, and focus do too. When employees are feeling happy and relaxed, they are more open to expressing their ideas and stepping out of their comfort zone because it feels safer to do so.

Fun at work is cultural thing, not a special event.

With National Fun at Work Day just around the corner on January 28th, use it as a launch point for introducing more happiness at work and your culture. Realize fun in the workplace needs to go beyond a feel good day at work. If you reserve fun as a special event only, you run the risk of it feeling staged and turning off employees who don’t want to feel forced to participate. Also, what happens when the special day is over? It’s back to the grindstone and burnout. When fun is part of the culture, it becomes a genuine part of the company. It’s simply, how you roll.

Use care when designing more fun at work. Start by listing your employee types. Do they all work in a main office, multiple locations or only remotely? Do they have different hours and shifts? Are there large generational gaps? You’ll want to ensure that whatever cultural changes you are incorporating, that they can be enjoyed by all.

Consider creating more fun and cultural happiness through things like great pay, flexible work days or hours, half-day Fridays, remote work options like working from home every other Friday, on-the-spot bonuses for achievements, acknowledgement for milestones or wins, a great benefit package that might include a fitness center membership, childcare, financial planning or stress management.

Some simple and easy ideas

For some quick starters, you might want to get everyone a yoyo to help destress and let the creative juices flow from being relaxed. Have an “Office Supply Work of Art” contest, where all you can use are standard supplies on your desk. Display the nameless pieces and let everyone vote for their favorite, then showcase it. Hang a white board with a marker in the break room. On the top of it, pose a question each month like “If stranded on a desert island, what one item would you bring?” or “What’s your Favorite Meal?” Speaking of food, pizza, bagels and cupcakes always lighten things up. Or, do a potluck once in a while.

Of course, managers play a key role in the culture. Urge them to be more empathetic and trusting toward their staff. Encourage them to talk to their employees and get more feedback. Pulse surveys are a great way to find out what’s on their minds. Onboardia’s survey feature makes this simple and engaging for employees.

As you create more fun and happiness at work, keep an eye out for the positive changes that occur and what it does for productivity!

Note: Ironically, January 28th is a Sunday, so be sure to celebrate the Friday before and have some fun.

Streamlining your onboarding and training processes means more time to focus on company culture and improving the employee experience. We’ve also got lots of ideas about increasing fun at work. Let’s connect to discuss ways onboardia can help.  Schedule a Demo today.

Topics: Management, Human Resources, Training, Corporate Culture

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