To have fun or not to have fun? That is the question.
Are you curious how companies like Google, Zappos, and Southwest develop those winning workplace cultures with such high productivity and profitability? Regardless of the industry, there is a common thread running through the highest performing companies: the inherent or stated culture of fun. Among companies denoted as “great” in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” a whopping 81 percent of employees say they work in a “fun” environment.
If you look closely at the highly
successful companies mentioned, they incorporate fun into the fabric of their
culture. Fun at work may not be the “silver bullet” that produces superior
results on its own, but a workplace environment that prioritizes fun will rise
above the competition. With stout leadership, dedicated management, and strong
company values, company-wide fun can take you over the top.
Prioritizing fun in the workplace will have a
direct impact throughout your company in a myriad of ways, but there are a few
specific areas that can be highlighted.
would agree that a healthy and happy employee is a more productive employee,
right? Fun can be an important component of emotional wellness. Oftentimes, fun
is used to encourage participation or bolster existing wellness programs. The
attention to emotional intelligence in the workplace and its impact on the
bottom line are rapidly gaining momentum.
For most organizations human capital is
the largest asset and the single largest expense. It seems like a natural place
to focus, considering it will have the largest impact on the bottom line. We
have already seen the biggest advances in technology and those investments
today are producing marginal returns and impact on productivity. The next
revolution in the workplace is culture.
explore productivity. Do you ever get a break? Are you expected to work eight hours
per day straight with no breaks? Fun can offer great breaks and distractions that
don’t waste time but offer true valuable break time. As an example, there is a
national call and customer service center that offers its employees a unique
schedule. They have broken up their average daily time commitment into on-phone
time and quick breaks (dubbed “shorts”). These shorts are sprinkled throughout
any of the call center employees’ days. They last 15 minutes or less, during
which time employees can play ping pong, take a walk outside, or do anything
they please during that time.
Look at Google. They give their employees
20 percent of any given work day to simply do what they want to do. And no,
that time does not have to be work related. Why? One reason is for the sake of
productivity of their work force. They realize that their people are working
hard. The breaks are meant to enhance productivity of employees’ work periods.
Relationships and Loyalty
and loyalty (sometimes seen as retention) go hand in hand. A staggering 79
percent of companies believe they have a significant retention and engagement
problem. The average cost of losing an employee ranges from 1.5 to 4 times the
person’s salary, depending on the position. What about attracting the next
generation of great talent? The tides are shifting and given the choice most
people — especially millennials — will choose culture over pay. Culture and fun
are differentiators that will give you the competitive advantage.
can engagement be affected and, in turn, affect the bottom line? In human
resources (HR), one very popular metric is employee engagement, which is an
employee’s emotional and active commitment to the success of the company.
Engaged workers are enthusiastic about their jobs. And disengaged workers are
not. According to a Gallup
survey, a company loses $2,246 per disengaged employee per year. Why?
Disengaged employees take more sick days. They arrive late, miss deadlines, and
are more likely to instigate customer complaints. In all, they drag people and
Fun can help. Fun has a 68 percent
correlation to employee engagement scores. In other words, if someone perceives
his or her work environment as “fun” on a survey, the individual engagement
score will be affected positively by 68 percent. In other studies, 75 percent
of companies observed who incorporate fun into their culture and operation, and
that also currently measure engagement, report increased or maintained scores
When designed and delivered at regular intervals
with forethought and understanding about what your staff needs, fun at work can
build solidarity, connection, and an outlet for work-related stress.
Focus on Culture
you get it. So how do you get started?
Remember this is a cultural change, not a
single event or two, so it takes time. Start by assessing your culture. Ask
yourself if you see value in fun and then explore how the fun can become a part
of your operation. The next big revolution in the working world is focusing on
culture. Enlightened leaders recognize that the old hierarchal ways of doing
business and treating employees like numbers, not people, are no longer
effective. You will be glad you considered fun — so will your employees and
About the Author
Nat Measley, MPA, is the CEO and managing partner at The Fun Dept. Measley earned his Master of Public Administration with a focus on Organizational Leadership from the University of Delaware. He is an experienced public speaker, facilitator, and trainer who works directly with CEOs, leaders, HR professionals, and administrators to develop fun programming that supports their organizational goals.For more information, contact: Nat Measley, www.TheFunDept.com