A corollary of this principle states that if you see someone having fun at work, they’re slacking off.
However, research shows that this dismal view of work is completely wrong.
In “The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up”, bestselling author Adrian Gostick and humorist Scott Christopher reveal how humor in the workplace has the following benefits:
- It helps build camaraderie.
- It increases productivity.
- It enhances employee satisfaction and loyalty.
- It encourages creativity and innovation for a better workplace and bigger profits.
According to Bob Pike, author of The Fun Minute Manager, a fun work environment is one in which formal and informal activities occur regularly that are designed to uplift people’s spirits and remind people of their value to their managers, their organization, and to each other.
These activities include:
- The use of humor;
- Opportunities for self development; or
- Recognition of achievements and milestones.
Imagine waking up each morning looking forward to the fun that you’re going to have at work that day! This can become a reality. How? By coming up with ways to have more fun at work. Here are 25 ideas to help you get started generating your own:
1. A company in California distributes page-a-day calendars on different subjects to employees at the beginning of each year. The subjects range from “Jeopardy,” to Dilbert cartoons, to gardening tips.
Since everyone’s calendar is different employees share the tips, jokes, or riddles that they get each day with everyone else. Follow their lead and do something similar. (From “301 Ways to Have Fun at Work”).
2. On the third Thursday of the month, go to a pub for food and/or drinks and celebrate achievements, anniversaries, birthdays, and just making it through another month. (From “The Levity Effect”).
3. Decorate the workplace. CNN iReport has a whole report dedicated to creative cubicles which you can take a look at here. Three of my favorites are the following:
In addition: personalize your workspace with things such as the following:
- Family and pet photos.
- Fresh flowers.
- Bright colors that you enjoy.
4. Install a basketball hoop in the parking lot and start a tournament for employees during the lunch break. (From “301 Ways to Have Fun at Work”).
5. Organized goofing around can foster team spirit and increase creativity. Contests like relay races in office chairs and team Nerf gun fights help break up a workday and allow everyone to bring a renewed spirit to their work. (From “301 Ways to Have Fun at Work”).
6. Have a Laughter Yoga session before each meeting.
7. Build a Wall of Fame. Decorate it with awards, thank-you notes from clients, news clippings of your company’s successes, and so on. (From “The Levity Effect”).
8. Create a humor bulletin board. Make it a point to look for cartoons and jokes which poke fun at the circumstances that cause negativity or conflict in the office. Start with a blank board each Monday morning.
However, keep all of the old cartoons and jokes and put them together in a scrapbook. Award the scrapbook to the employee who does the most to foster good humor in the workplace. (Source).
9. Have a “Success Bell”. When someone in the office helps a client or makes a new sale they ring a bell and everyone cheers. (Source).
10. Turn the coffee room into a humor room by stocking it with stand-up comedy routines on DVD or audio tapes. (Source).
11. Mary Owen from Oracle Corp. says the following: “We are under a lot of pressure and toys are our comfort. We need them like Linus needs his blanket.”
Toys for the office can include koosh balls, pez dispensers, hula hoops, a sand tray, wooden blocks, origami paper, and so on.
12. Work together to create a mural on an office wall, or create some other type of art together. (From “The Levity Effect”).
13. Have a pizza and ice cream social each time an important goal is reached.
14. Take candid photos of employees at work and hang the pictures up on the bulletin board.
15. Give juggling kits to all your employees and have a “meeting” in which everyone learns to juggle. Once a quarter you can have a meeting that’s not business related. (From “Work Happy Now”).
16. When tensions get high at Social Sauce, a user-generated content and communication platform in New York City, employees break out foam swords. Jenn de la Vega, a marketing assistant there, explains the following:
“In an office of mostly Internet and tech males, the sword fights diffuse tension by allowing coworkers to play similarly to the online games they play or develop.” (Source).
17. A high tech company in Reston, Virginia posts a riddle in their weekly newsletter. The first person to answer the riddle correctly receives a small gift valued at $5 or less. The gifts are often nostalgic toys, like a slinky, Play-Doh, and other items that can be played with or shared around the office.
A company representative stated, “Everyone in the office looks forward to seeing what is awarded that week. The toys often get passed around and borrowed. It’s a big hit!” (Source).
18. Colleen Barrett, who retired as CEO of Southwest Airlines, sent over 3,000 handwritten notes every month for nearly 30 years thanking employees for specific things they had done to improve the passenger experience for Southwest customers. (Source).
19. A “fun committee” should be formed to find effective ways to add fun to work. The committee should consist of representatives from a wide range of departments, and committee membership should rotate. (Source).
20. Allow your employees to be spontaneous. On a Southwest Airlines flight, Flight attendant David Holmes spontaneously decided to rap the safety instructions at the beginning of the flight. It was a big hit with passengers and now he does it all the time.
21. At Microsoft they blast music at three o’clock when everyone’s energy is starting to slump: Some people get up and dance and everyone claps when the song is over.
22. Celebrate the holidays by having Secret Santas for Christmas (or having a cookie exchange), pumpkin decorating contests for Halloween, and a Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving.
23. Celebrate birthdays once a month. Have cake and ice cream, and give those who are celebrating their birthday that month the opportunity to “Spin the Wheel” and win a prize.
24. Put games in the break room. Get a ping-pong table or a Foosball table. Set up a chess set for a continuing game. Get a Wii to encourage exercise.
25. Here’s a suggestion from Fastcompany.com: Bring a karaoke machine to the office and stage “American Idol” contests at lunch break.
Right now you might be thinking, “I’d love to do these things at work, but I’m not the boss”.
If that’s the situation that you’re in, arm yourself with all the evidence that’s out there that proves that having fun at work makes employees more productive and more creative. Then, convince your boss to introduce some of the activities described above into the workplace.
Here are some more benefits of having fun at work:
- Play encourages us to approach opportunities instead of retreating.
- Play promotes exploration.
- Play induces the state of flow–the feeling of being totally absorbed in what you’re doing.
How do you have fun at work? Please share in the comments section.
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