Sometimes, there’s too much hard work at work. Getting things done is crucial in a functional business, but there’s another side to the productivity coin that’s too often ignored.
I’m talking about fun. People aren’t machines, we’re dynamic creatures with incredible creative potential. However, if we’re stuck in an environment where nothing unusual ever happens and we’re expected to sit still for hours on end and be ceaselessly productive, something weird happens—productivity actually plummets.
Encouraging some playtime at work not only perks people up and recharges their initiative, it builds a company culture that’s much stronger than an army of desk-robots could ever hope to be. Why? Sharing fun activities not only helps people refuel, it forges powerful bonds that make a business the kind of place people want to work for and clients want to work with.
Order employees to leave the office.
A great way to build stronger teams is to escort employees from the premises … preferably, to a football game or company picnic with disc golf and barbecue. Taking a little time off to film a promotional spoof video, hit a Friday food truck party, or gather around someone’s birthday cake for a few minutes doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it’s guaranteed to make your team feel more like family.
Bring back social media.
Cutting social media access is one way to limit distractions, but so many people miss their connectivity that the tactic may demoralize more than it inspires. Rather than squelch social media, get on board. Beef up your company’s own social presence and post updates on what the business is doing to build an upbeat culture. It will not only remind employees of good times together, but also shine bright to potential job candidates who might be watching.
Let them eat cake.
Food, glorious food! It can unite just about anyone, and when people are desperate for a break from their desk chairs, there is nothing like the miracle of surprise BLT sandwiches from everyone’s favorite deli. Pick one or two days “just because” every quarter to have an ice cream social, pizza party, or taco fiesta. Buying some lunch every blue moon won’t break the bank, and the team will flip for it.
Make meetings more interesting.
It’s your job to be the boss, not a professional entertainer. However, that doesn’t mean weekly meetings have to be an exercise in mind-numbing drudgery. Take a minute at the start of weekly meetings to ask every person one amazing thing they did last weekend or name one place on earth where they want to travel most. Post a scoreboard to praise recent wins, both small and momentous, and use it to start friendly competitions for everything from sales milestones to fantasy football scores. When people can look forward to the little things, meetings feel more like fun and less like a mandatory requirement.
Make a big deal out of milestones.
No matter what your company does, if people don’t feel valued they are more likely to get caught between misery and fantasizing about another job. Setting a little time aside to recognize employees for work well done is the easiest thing in the world, but most companies don’t bother. Everyone works to get paid, but feeling like you are a recognized part of a group means the difference between wanting to come to work every day and wishing you could run away forever.
The mantra of “work hard, play hard” may be a cliché, but I believe people do their best work when their lives have been balanced by energizing play. If you’re in doubt as to how to customize your culture and endow it with a stronger sense of fun, think about what your dream workplace would look and feel like and start implementing those ideas.
Even better, ask employees what they’d love to see most in the workplace. Something as simple as a Ping-Pong table may only take five minutes out of each workday, but it can be impactful enough to turn your business into a place employees brag about.
About Gabe Abshire
Serial entrepreneur Gabe Abshire is CEO of Utility Concierge, a free Dallas Metroplex service that saves anyone choosing utilities and other home services time, money, and stress. From day one of starting Utility Concierge, Abshire engineered a dynamic company culture to attract star talent and collect a cohesive group of passionate professionals.