Our work culture and the environment have always advocated discipline, efficiency and productivity in the workplace, and it can be hard to believe that having fun at work can contribute to an organization’s advocacies. However, the idea that “laughter, play, and fun are an essential part of life” is not a modern concept according to Matt Weinstein as discussed in his book “Managing to Have Fun”. In fact, studies have repeatedly validated what we, as employees, already know – that there are solid and impactful benefits of having fun in the workplace. More than a decade’s worth of research by the Great Place to Work Institute resulted in a 1-million person research database and its results reveal overwhelming evidence that says, “Great” companies consistently earn significantly higher marks for “fun.”
Studies reveal that making a workplace fun may be an inexpensive, profitable mechanism of engagement that correlates directly with increasing employee job satisfaction, cultivating morale, and improving quality of customer service. And when we say “fun,” we talk about it as an outgrowth of a positive workplace culture and environment. Activities, whether formal or informal, done and designed to encourage fun in the workplace is an inexpensive way to reap the following benefits:
Enhance Productivity and Increased Learning = A Better Work Environment
Fun workplaces cultivate an environment that enhances learning, productivity and creativity while reducing employee burnout and absenteeism. In fact, doing workplace fun activities and events is an active prevention measure for burnout. It shows appreciation for the time and effort employees give to the organization.
Builds Trust and Improves Communication = Improved Employer-Employee Relationship
Having a fun working environment builds trusts, opens up, encourages and increases communication and enhances creativity and innovative ideas. Laughter, humor and play even out the playing field, regardless of positions in the company. When two people laugh together, it speaks volumes in a way that says, “You and I are alike in some way.” When people see each other’s vulnerability and find ways to connect with each other, it builds trust. When a supervisor laughs with his subordinates, he comes off as approachable, personable and a “human being”.
Increased Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction affects an employee’s performance and commitment to the job, even extending to his overall well-being.
The Great Place to Work Institute asks tens of thousands of employees each year to rate their experience of workplace factors. Eighty-one percent of employees that describe their company “great” said they are working in a “fun” environment, according to the Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. It’s an obvious reason: Employees are having fun working that they are very satisfied with their jobs and the companies they work for.
Employee Recruitment and Retention
The best example for this benefit is Google. In fact, Google is seen as the gold standard of fun workplaces. Rumor has it that it attracts more than 3,000 applicants daily! Google Co-Founder Larry Page maintains that “[w]e don’t just want you to have a great job. We want you to have a great life. We provide you with everything you need to be productive and happy on and off the clock.” Among the top ten self-ascribed reasons to work at Google, number four on the list states that “work and play are not mutually exclusive: it is possible to code and pass the puck at the same time”. For the fourth consecutive year, Google ranked among the top five of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”. According to Page, “Google is organized around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people” , an attraction that is due in large part to Google’s ability to successfully balance work and play.
If you have this kind of environment, you will have little trouble recruiting and retaining employees.
Overall Positive Customer Experience
The benefits of having a fun working environment is contagious – it’s like creating ripples in the water; its effects are felt even by customers. Matt Weinstein says it best, “if you want your company to provide excellent customer service, you first have to provide that same kind of attention and appreciation to your internal customers—your own employees. You cannot expect your employees to provide service with a smile if you don’t give them something to smile about.”
In short, happy employees serve happily leading to happier customers who in turn will return more frequently, positively impacting the whole business.