Seriously, have some fun at work

Remember as a kid and spending hours a day playing with your friends?  Now compare that experience with a typical day at your workplace.

Notice any difference?

Obviously, the workplace is not a playground. But if you’re concerned about employees’ mental as well as physical health, it also shouldn’t be as lifeless as a morgue, either.

“Play days” are no longer just for parents and their kids as more and more businesses are recognizing the value of fun in the workplace. According to Entrepreneur, one of the biggest business trends of 2013 is that CEOs are getting the message that “goofing off” contributes to the bottom line.

There’s a reason why kids are so exuberantly joyful when they play. Martin Seligman, past president of the American Psychological Association and author of Authentic Happiness, says that the three pillars of mental health are love, work, and play.

Unfortunately, most of us are not likely to squeeze “play time” into our already overbooked schedules. According to business experts, however, employers should not only allow but encourage employees to have fun in the workplace, since it’s an effective way to motivate and:

  • Create a spirit of playfulness that builds teamwork by bringing employees together in a collaborative setting.
  • Improve employee morale and satisfaction.
  • Relieve stress.
  • Stimulate creativity.
  • Enable business owners and managers to connect with employees.
  • Reduce absenteeism and turnover.

Some companies even have “fun-time” policies. For example, Landscape Structures, a playground equipment designer-manufacturer with 300 employees, encourages its employees to take 10-minute breaks to have fun sometime during their workday.

One of the simplest and easy ways is to bring employees together for fun and games of their choosing for an hour or two every month. Ideas might include office scavenger hunts, friendly Wii competitions, or contests to identify employees from their baby pictures. Another option is to have small events offsite in a relaxing setting where employees will feel comfortable socializing.

Not yet ready to hire another CFO (Chief Fun Officer) or at least lighten up? Then consider this – laughter may offer some of the same health benefits as a mild workout, including improved blood flow, increased immune system response and lower blood sugar levels.

And even if it doesn’t improve your health or boost your energy, there’s no question that laughter undeniably improves the quality of life for you and your employees. Just look at the kids’ faces at any playground.

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Read 4 Comments

  1. Hello Ken – This is such a wonderful post! I have recently been studying some of Seligman’s work as part of a Positive Psychology course I am taking, so this really resonates with me. It is so important to smile and laugh everyday! We spend so much time at work, why not make the best of it? Thank you for posting this!

  2. I totally agree with this message. Often times, we think we can’t have fun or ‘be ourselves’ at work due to the nature of our jobs or environment and we relate work to stress or the need to always be serious. I believe that everything has a time and place and when the leaders set the tone of a professional, yet fun and productive environment, it can definitely have a trickle/positive affect.

  3. Good morning:

    This was a timely leadership article for me. I recently took part in the “Vision Board” event conducted during March Women’s month. I just said the other day that I was going to introduce it to my team because I felt it would be a fun and rewarding team building exercise.

    Thanks Ken for letting us know that Sr. leadership also understands that fun encouragement is key to the moral of employees.

    1. Sherrice, Niccole and Karen – Thank you all for your comments. You’re right – smiling, laughing and having fun in the workplace can boost morale and productivity. Leaders and their teams can work together to shape a positive and fun environment while still exuding professionalism. Karen, happy to hear you’re doing exactly that with your teams. – Ken

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