We live in a world where work time and personal time often overlap and merge together. We are so connected via social media, text, phone and email that even when you are “off the clock” you still are working. If you want to avoid burnout, you better figure out a way to have fun at work. No one EVER said on their death bed, “I wish I would have worked more” and yet we spend 1/3 of of our lives at work. We will spend 90,000 hours working, will have 7-8 jobs by age 30 and 80% of us will hate what we do! Employers and Managers, for the sake of your sanity and of course, productivity, do what you can to make the workplace fun.
Having fun is not only good for your health, but it will dramatically enhance the effort of the team. Be careful: you can’t force fun! It has to be a natural byproduct of the culture that you create.
A friend of mine included “fun” as a line item in his budget. He didn’t create very many rules about what “fun” was, he left that up to the team. Fun can be getting together for a meal or happy hour after work: really anything that allows the team to let their hair down and blow off some steam. I personally found this very effective in my own business. Down the street from my warehouse is a neighborhood sports bar. At least once a week we would all meet there after work and enjoy shooting the breeze. There was only one rule: no talk about work! I got to know my team better and we all realized that we had a lot in common. The cost of these and other activities was negligible compared to the benefits. I found it very important to let the team choose the activities and the venues. Let them own it and go along for the fun!
5 suggestions for fun in the workplace
1. Create games and contests for your company values. One client had a mini-golf tournament, right in the office. Employees navigated treacherous obstacles like the copy machine, the reception area and the recycling center. Each hole was a plastic cup with a company value, theme or story topic on it. Once an employee hit the ball into the hole they had to pause and tell others nearby a short story about what the value/theme/story meant to them.
2. Share community service experiences. Think back to the most powerful memories you have. They’re powerful because they are emotional—whether inspiring and uplifting or challenging with some struggle or trauma. Giving money to charities is cool, but donating time is far more emotional. Can you do it together? Have your team share the differences they make.
3. Embrace celebration and appreciation. Are you celebrating successes on a regular basis through visible appreciation? A few examples are high five emails to the team, leaderboards showing employees who are achieving their needle movers and weekly round-up emails listing individual employee’s wins. You can create some wacky and unique awards that your team can strive for as well.
4. Incorporate mindfulness practices on a regular basis. Every highly accomplished leader learns to stop the world and to stop their thoughts on command. This is one of the best ways to make key decisions. They use mindfulness practices on a daily basis. Why not make this a part of your office culture? Try having a monthly event where your team can learn a new mindfulness practice, such as meditation or yoga. If you really want to have fun, try a laughter yoga class they are a blast!
5. Celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries. Are you celebrating these special days? A card with a handwritten note has a huge positive impact and reminds team members that they are valued. Having cake or another special treat for the team is a great way to bring the team together and for them to have a chance to bond. If you are in a position to give a small gift, find out what the person really enjoys. Generic gift cards or standard gifts are great but a personalized gift is far more meaningful.
Most importantly , the way to be happy at work is to find meaning in what you do. It helps to build community at work, which the above suggestions will do, but also take responsibility for what you do. These all add up to a happier work environment for everyone.