Is your workplace a fun environment? Do your employees have enough fun throughout the week? As counterintuitive is it may seem, incorporating fun into your office can actually create a big boost in productivity, and sharing a few laughs with your employees can make them healthier, happier and able to work harder.
Indeed, science backs this up. From a medical standpoint, laughter is a great way to increase blood flow and lower stress. Studies also show that laughter can act as a “safety valve” for negative emotions. In other words, people can overcome work pressure by sharing a laugh in the office.
According to Cultural Anthropologist Mahadve Apte, laughter can also help individuals to bond with one another. “Laughter occurs when people are comfortable with one another when they feel open and free. And the more laughter there is, the more bonding occurs within the group.” So having a laugh once in a while will help to build a strong team, as well as reduce conflicts by lowering tension within the group.
Some of the most successful companies in the world already understand this simple truth. For example, Google has long been known to be one of the best companies to work for, and with good reason. Stepping into a Google headquarters is like stepping into a wonderland. Imagine a colourful office filled with slides, arcade games, in-house bowling alleys, food courts where all your meals are free…it’s no wonder ‘Googlers’ love their place of employment and sing its praises. Not a day goes by when they aren’t having fun or laughing with their colleagues.
Of course, you don’t have to go as far as Google to create a fun environment. With the simple strategies below, you can easily make your workplace a more enjoyable place to be during the week.
When’s the last time your employees experienced a team-building activity? These days, team building activities come in all types. From personal development workshops and volunteering to improv classes at your local theatre and cook-offs, the sky’s the limit. The idea is to help your employees get to know each other better while also breaking up the mundane routine of the 9-5 workday. You can even survey your employees to get ideas for what they’d most enjoy doing for a team-building activity. The opportunity to contribute their ideas and feel heard will add to the fun of being a part of your team.
Again, it doesn’t take a lot to break up the monotony of the workday. For instance, something as simple as ‘Casual Fridays,’ where employees can wear casual clothes, creates an informal setting where your team members feel relaxed and more open with one another.
Celebrating people’s birthdays and other special occasions such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and more is also a great way to have a bit of fun. You can set aside time to play icebreakers during these celebrations or to simply enjoy light refreshments, allowing employees time to interact with one another without the weight of work tasks on their shoulders.
Of course, you don’t have to stay in the office all the time. More and more companies are starting to plan workplace ‘field trips’ for their teams. You can charter a shuttle to take your employees to a museum, a sports game, a dining cruise, and more. Again, surveying your team members can help you develop a plethora of ideas when it comes to outings.
A day out of the office is great for your employees’ mental health, providing them with valuable leisure time where they can enjoy themselves, have a good laugh, and further build their workplace relationships.
Loosen the Reins
Finally, take a deep look at your leadership style. Leaders who put unrealistic pressures on people, who perhaps micro-manage or who are overly critical, tend to create a high-stress environment which discourages people from innovating and being creative.
Instead, set a clear vision and direction, and then let your people develop a passion for their work, one that lets them be creative and puts them in control. It might surprise you how they go above and beyond the call of duty!
Incorporating fun into the workplace is essential. Not only does it create a happier and healthier environment where your employees can share laughs with each other (and boost their well-being by doing so), but it also makes for better mental states, which means higher productivity in the long run. More than that, a fun and relaxed environment very often mean a long-term commitment from your employees. When people find a workplace that values them and helps them to feel happy, they tend to want to stick around. After all, happiness is contagious—and we all could benefit from having more of it in our lives!
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Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and leadership coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years. Ros’ expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, emotional intelligence, organisational behaviour, employee engagement, strategic direction and management.
Ros is a Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI), a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) and a Professional Member of the Australian Association for Psychological Type (AusAPT). She holds a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources from Deakin University, an Australian Human Resources Institute Professional Diploma in Human Resources and has completed the Australian Graduate School of Management Executive Program, Strategic Human Resource Management.