How Leaders Incorporate Fun in the Workplace

Are you a tiny bit curious how a company like Google developed a winning workplace culture, with such high productivity and profitability? They are noted among companies as “great” in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “2014” , these same companies added new employees at a rate that was five times higher than the national average. Regardless of the industry, there is a common filament running through the highest performing companies: the inherent or stated culture of fun.
If your workplace atmosphere consists of a cold, mechanical, stifling, repressive culture (then “Run Forest Run!”), employees simply will not hang around. Developing happy employees is what twenty-first century management is all about. And guess what? It makes leadership a lot more fun, too! Can you recognize the fun being achieved in your workplace?

A Sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done. –Dwight D. Eisenhower

Fun in the Workplace Opportunities

Enlightened leaders recognized that the outdated hierarchical ways of doing business and treating employees like numbers, not people, are no longer effective. Here are some basic facts on employees that have fun in the workplace:

  1. Fun encourages employees to be more innovative
  2. Employees are less fearful of change
  3. Employees are more productive and focused
  4. Closer relationships between leaders, managers and employees are created.

Leaders make sure employees feel valued and the best possible work environments are maintained which empowers people to learn and grow with the company. A creative environment is one where each person feels encouraged to contribute to processes, decisions, planning and culture.
According to the Glassdoor publication, CEO Larry Page from Google is ranked number 1 as the highest rated CEO in the Employee’s Choice Awards for 2015. Check out the pros and cons of what employees had to say about Larry Page and other high ranking CEO’s, and what they do to make sure their environments are healthy and fun.
You don’t have to be a large organization like Google to invest in fun. Here at Coley & Associates, Inc. we are a Veteran-Owned small business which has been voted by employees as one of San Antonio’s Best Places to Work five years running (2012-2016). Our leadership incorporates fun into the workplace to include activities such as Lunch and Learns, which are coordinated and scheduled by our own employees, Health Challenges, Cowboy Breakfasts, Chili & Salsa cook-offs and activities that give back to the community.

Generational Differences When it Comes to Fun

According to research, the effect of fun in the workplace depends heavily on employees’ ages. Specifically, millennials tend to like workplace fun more than members of older generations. One survey found that up to 88 percent of millennials want a fun and social work environment, compared to just 60 percent of boomers. While percentages might not be available for Gen Xers, I find that Gen Xers place a high value on fast-paced action and having fun and expect work to be engaging.
A multi-generational workplace increases the complexity of managing people and can present major challenges to the organization. For example, boomers may feel they are no longer valued due to an influx of Millennials or Gen-Xers. Make extra efforts to keep them engaged and show them that their contributions are valued. Age typically affects leadership, by growing up in a global, dynamic world millennials expect global exposure.
However, by keeping all of your workers engaged, giving each of them a voice and honoring their contributions, promoting innovation through diversity, you can develop a considerable business advantage to incorporate fun. By the year 2020, five generations will work together, while baby boomers tend to focus on hierarchy and respect; the younger workers expect more flexibility. Effective leaders need to take the time to establish trust with every generation in the workforce.

How Leaders Can Create a Fun Workplace

As leaders you have a responsibility to lower turnover, reduce injuries, accidents and stress, and increase employee engagement and productivity, right? Find ways to insert and increase the enjoyment and fun people have at work, such as light humor or workplace-related references to make sure that the cartoon will be received as expected and not be seen as offensive or creating a hostile environment. Here are some tips for making work more fun:

  • Create “happiness-boosting traditions” with your coworkers;
  • Take a few minutes every day to get up and walk around;
  • Make your workspace a place you enjoy being; and
  • Laugh, be appreciative.

Finally, did you know that: “Laughter is an igniter of great expectations?” Children laugh an average of 400 times a day and that number drops to only 15 times a day by the time people reach age 35. Laughter releases endorphins into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise. Laughing increases oxygen intake, thereby replenishing and invigorating cells. It also increases the pain threshold, boosts immunity, and relieves stress. You burn 3 ½ calories every time you have a good hearty laugh. With happy and productive employees, your organization could be laughing all the way to the bank. How do you think having fun in the workplace influences company culture?

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By Janet Williams

As Director of Human Capital and Performance Consulting for Coley & Associates, Dr. Janet E. Williams provides Government clients and commercial companies insight on how to leverage resources and maximize services for improvements to company operations. She specializes in mentoring, progressive management process improvements, accountability and control, revenue enhancements, and other organizational change methods. For almost 20 years, Dr. Williams worked in government and head an Emerging Leaders Program for mentoring youth. Janet holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Hampton University a MBA from Troy State University, and her doctorate in Public Policy and Leadership from Walden University.

2 replies on “How Leaders Incorporate Fun in the Workplace”

I really enjoyed this article. With school starting just around the corner, these are some helpful tips on how to incorporate some “fun” into the weekly teacher in-service training’s and add a little bit of “balance” to an otherwise stressful and chaotic week of teaching.

Mr. Lomeli, thank you for returning to my blog, we can sometimes take for granted that the environment in which we spend most of our day in could also nurture our healthy and fun sense of being. I like the statement of balance, since ultimately achieving this in life is a great place to reside and find peace. The benefit of writing a blog like this is that it stands as a reminder that these are the things most people would enjoying doing, and healthy reminders tend to do no harm, and can enhance the brain cells. Looking forward to connecting with you soon.

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