Having fun in the workplace
Red Bull, the drinks firm, have apparently got a slide in their London office!
In August 2013, Nasa engineers reported having fun coaxing a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday To You’ out of the lonely, 2,000lb Curiosity Rover which had landed a year previously. In a previous role, I was responsible for running the annual raft race on a theme park somewhere in Derbyshire. Staff adored the occasion and planned the crafts for months in advance but it would probably be banned on the grounds of health and safety these days!
I’ve been thinking a lot just lately about how we can use fun in the workplace these days, in an appropriate manner without it affecting the customer experience. Here are my thoughts…
People are more productive if the workplace is enjoyable
You won’t be surprised to hear that the part of our brain that deals with emotion is linked to the part that manages our intellect, memory and reasoning powers. Scientists have proven that positive moods, such as contentment or delight lead to imaginative problem solving while negative feelings, such as unhappiness or fear, lead us to become narrow minded, risk averse, thus lowering productivity.
And Laughter….. according to Ben Renshaw of the Happiness Project, stimulates production of the happy hormone, serotonin. When we laugh we apparently take in more oxygen and stimulate the respiratory system. A good giggle is seemingly a natural relaxant and strengthens the immune system! So laughter in your workplace will help your sickness absence rate, what’s not to like?
So, based on my really simplistic view that if work is more enjoyable, employees will become more effective and productive, yet there is a caveat to this because fun imposed by management will only work if employees agree to it. It’s not compulsory
How can you introduce authentic enjoyment and fun into your workplace that fits your business? Here are a few ideas:
- It starts at the top. If you are the leader, smile and choose an upbeat and positive attitude each day. If you’re in a bad mood you will be surprised how quickly it catches on.
- What’s fun for one person will not be fun for another so cater for a few different personality types. In my experience, the one exception is food…most people find food, especially free food, quite appealing.
- Ask the team what they want to do. What constitutes having fun for them? I asked this of the recruitment team just the other day. I expected the response to be a team night out or maybe a theme day in the office, but no, they told me they wanted to make a light-hearted film of the way they work that will attract other candidates to join our ranks.
- There are some obvious no-nos. Office humour should not be sarcastic or offend anyone. It should not undermine professional behaviour or detract from core business. Common sense.
- Celebrate successes. If you have had a good month in March then why not buy chocolate eggs for all of your staff at Easter – it won’t cost a fortune and it will show them how much you appreciate them.
In September, 2014 the civil engineers behind some of London’s most iconic infrastructure projects put on their dancing shoes to show the public – young people in particular – how happy they are to be engineers and the diverse and exciting careers on offer that you’ll get from choosing maths and science subjects at school. Check out their fabulous video here. It made me want to retrain as an Engineer!
Fun is contagious. Catch it!
Ruth is an expert in helping businesses develop high performance cultures at pace through people powered change. She is passionate about sharing the lessons that she has learned with your business. Call her on 07976 509551