Fun. A very short word with a huge impact and meaning.
When fun becomes part of your company culture, production gets a boost and employees are more likely to view your company as an amazing place to work. Just over 80 percent of employees at companies ranked as “great” or "amazing workplaces" described their office environments as fun.
Merriam Webster defines fun as something that provides amusement or enjoyment. It can also be a mood that seeks out exciting and exhilarating experiences. It's not the same for everyone though. Fun is different for each person.
We each have things that we find fun and those passions give us joy. You may love going fishing or perhaps hiking through nature. Looking over beautiful views is your idea of fun. No matter what it is, it makes you feel more alive, and that is a powerful force that can be harnessed in business.
You may have heard the saying “If you love what you do, and have fun doing it, you’ll never work a day in your life.” A sense of fun brings enjoyment to the everyday tasks required by your job. Fun and play enhance teamwork and bind the team together. It has been shown to increase employee retention. That should come as no surprise. Your employees tend to be more engaged when they feel as though they're having fun at work.
The old adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" certainly applies to the concept of fun in the workplace. At LinkedIn, large tabletop games are available for workers to blow off steam between answering emails and calls. Instead of sitting at a desk or in a cubicle, they play foosball or ping-pong. Zynga also has games that can be played during working hours. Their employees are often found trying to beat the highest score on the arcade games in the hallways of their offices.
Google goes a step further. They have days where employees go bowling or scale a climbing wall rather than work on anything at all. There are a host of activities to choose from at the search engine’s main campus in California. Some Google employees choose to be paid to play beach volleyball for the day. Instead of sifting through emails and spreadsheets, you could be in the sunshine spiking a ball into the ground and pretending to be Maverick and Goose doing cool reverse hi-fives and wearing aviators while getting paid.
KnowBe4, the unicorn tech company based in Florida, even has a head of Development of Fun and Shenanigans and a Jester of Hijinx! Their job is focused on ways to make working there fun and keep the employees engaged and happy.
Science backs this approach. The National Institute for Play says that making play a regular part of your life supports mental health, improves one's ability to relate to others, and increases our drive and hope for the future. 79 percent of graduates felt that having fun at work was important. 44 percent of them said that fun in the workplace would increase their work ethic. In business having a playful atmosphere isn’t only to attract the bright energetic young talent out there. Studies show that play at work can boost creativity and productivity across the board.
Making work fun makes the work day go by faster and it gives a sense of purpose to even the most mundane of jobs. Toiling away on a production line can be boring at best, and dangerous if you lose concentration. If it is fun it ceases to be boring and becomes a game.
Fun isn’t just taking the day off and playing games. It is about injecting fun into the very fabric of the organization. Having fun is not just for the employees of the company but for the bosses as well. This concept should be seeded throughout the whole culture of the business.
Start by bringing fun into meetings and tasks. Break down big things into small manageable, winnable pieces with rewards attached. Figuring out what your team responds to and how to bring fun into your world is all it takes to put get started on the path to becoming an amazing workplace.
Fun might not be at the top of an executive's to-do list, but studies show that it should be taken seriously as a business decision. Encouraging employees to have fun at work results in them taking fewer sick days. More engaged employees stay longer and work harder because they are enjoying the work they are doing. Environmental cues like having games in the hallway or on display in the office certainly encourage playful behavior. However, its not the game props that make it fun. The people in a business make it fun. It is their behavior and attitude that bring light and joy.
Fun is infectious and as more of your employees catch the fun bug, the better life will be - both in and out of the office. Make fun a priority for your business and your workplace will soon be known as an amazing workplace..