By Sara Harrup
We don’t typically think of the workplace as the scene of a great amount of fun! For the most part we view work as a serious matter, scattered with the odd laugh here and there. Sometimes we get the opportunity to eat a nice piece of cake when a colleague has a birthday and if we are lucky at Christmas we might get to go out for a longer lunch. Many managers, confronted with the sight of their team members engaging in a bit of hilarity, assume that not much work is getting done and frown upon what they see as employees wasting time.
There is, in my view, a strong role for fun in the workplace. Some of the benefits of having fun at work are:
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved productivity
- Strong team relationships
- Healthy morale
- Decreased staff turnover
I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already worked out for yourself. So why does the concept of introducing fun at work incite fear? I think it is because most people feel that having fun at work is about a lot of people standing around giggling and laughing and not doing any work, or people playing practical jokes on each other that get out of hand or contravene legislation on anti-discrimination or bullying and harassment. Fun is risky business, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here are a few tips for having safe, healthy fun at work.
- Have clear boundaries about what sort of fun is proper and what isn’t
- If your culture stinks, tacking on “fun” activities is not going to fix it. Fix your environment first and then allow the fun to just merge into the every day
- Look for fun in the simple things – listen to a colleague’s amusing anecdote, grab a cuppa in the kitchen with your peers, enjoy the opportunity to engage with a new client
- Release your inner comic – many people are really funny and using your sense of humour is a great way to have fun
- If you have the kind of workplace that doesn’t mind the odd activity, find something fun to do by checking out the web. There are loads of websites about having fun at work. The key is not to force it or it could have the opposite effect
About Sara: Sara Harrup is a Cause & Effective Associate. She is a former not for profit CEO and has first-hand knowledge of the challenges and issues faced by organisations in the sector and the people who work in them. Sara brings this experience and insight to our Leadership Search team.