Should fun at work be taken seriously?

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You’ve heard it countless times before, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, “work hard – play harder”… let’s pause and take a moment to consider what these statements are trying to touch on.

As managers responsible for our team’s performance, we itch between getting things done effectively and keeping our people happily engaged. Take life too seriously and you’ll drain yourself from all the pleasures it has to offer, take it too lightly and you may fall behind on your utmost potential and stumble into misfortunes that will be difficult to surpass.

Times may be becoming more stressful, competitive and demanding, but people are also growing more aloof, mindful, and hungry for entertainment. With Millennials and Generation Z being the popular majority of this time, a different order needs to be considered in the workplace. This generation was born into entertainment; it’s almost their second language. Access to any kind of content we desire has never been easier with all the variety of technologies on the rise. On one hand, this is great and limitlessly informative, on the other hand, it’s also demanding and draining.

Based on this survey done by Deloitte, 77% of professionals have experienced burnout at their current job, 51% experienced this more than once, and 84% among those were not passionate about their job.

The question is, what do we need to develop a sustainable, driven, productive, and yet lightweight workforce?… The answer is not that straightforward. First, let’s look at some relevant data:

A healthier workforce: A research entitled Emotional style and susceptibility to the common cold shows that happier employees have a stronger immune system than those who constantly show negative emotions. Another research entitled Neurobiology of Aging indicates that greater happiness is associated with lower salivary cortisol both on working and nonworking days, reduced stress responses, and lower ambulatory heart rate. That also leads to less absenteeism and higher work performance.

Fine line between fun and too much fun: Is too much fun destructive? A study by the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly entitled Does fun Pay? The Impact of Workplace Fun on Employee Turnover and Performance shows that although fun reduces employee turnover, there is a fine line where the excess of it might decrease productivity. The secret lies in balancing fun with deliverables.

To portray a more realistic picture of why such a culture is highly possible; while ideas group is all about upgrading performance, one of our core values is “We play and make their day”, and yet in parallel, it is just as paramount as our value “We only deliver quality” – none of which is compromised because of the other.

As most research shows the positive correlation between fun at work and employee productivity, low-stress levels, better health, improved communication, higher levels of self-awareness, creativity, and overall employee performance – the question remains, how do we do it effectively?

Here are three ways how we, at ideas group, direct and maintain a culture of productive fun at work:

1.             Create constructive play activities: To clarify, fun at work doesn’t mean you should go ahead and act goofy around the office on a constant basis – as you will still need to be taken seriously in a professional environment. It ideally means socializing with colleagues, opening yourself up to team-building activities, public celebrations of milestones, and attending occasional corporate outings; as these events should not only be focused on feeding the body, but also feeding the mind and spirit. This is also an opportunity for you to pitch in your own ideas; those of which will bring a sense of adventure and togetherness within your organization.

2.              Share community service experiences: The power of doing something for others is understated. Selfless contributions are a universal need and when you do it with your co-workers it creates an atmosphere of trust, team bonding, a chance to discover common interests, and even build stronger communication skills. Not everything done together has to be within the job. Set up a day where you can all do a beach clean-up. During holiday seasons, why not visit an orphanage all together and put a smile on a few children’s faces?

3.              Clarify the split between deliverables and fun: Fun between co-workers should never affect deliverables. Building good relationships with each other is crucial for the overall wellbeing of your work environment and performance, but the focus remains on the work that needs to be done. This is the priority. Once this point has been clarified amongst each other and within the workplace, there is more leeway for employees to manage their own time; knowing when to let loose, and when to get serious. At the end of the day, each individual will be held accountable for their own tasks.

            Now that we’ve laid down some essential factors that support this context, let’s look at this from another angle and ask ourselves; why don’t we take fun as seriously as we take our jobs? Surely, our jobs are a priority on most fronts, but fun should also be a priority on the personal front, both of which can feed off of each other when you strike the right balance.

While you may not always be able to make the decisions yourself, you don’t have fall victim to a dull environment. You are still part of a bigger puzzle. Gather up some co-workers who support you on your idea, and trust that when you come forth with a solution and proof of positive outcomes in everyone’s favor, others may join in on your initiative. Once you see how much fun and productivity can correspond well with each other, your days at work will be at ease, your self-awareness is heightened, your attitude with others will be more lighthearted, your general spirit will be uplifted, and your time at home will be more stress-free.

So, with all that being said, ask yourself: what kind of fun element can you add to your work environment? What steps will you take to make it happen?

Drop a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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