When I first started running my own business I did some temping to make sure I got up in the morning and saw a few faces during the day. In one placement I worked with a man who was a grumpy old s*d most of the time but on a good day he could be hysterically funny. We both had the humour and the rest of the unit kept wandering across to our area to find out what was entertaining us.
The maddest day was the one after I’d been to see Gladiator. Pete said to me: “When we were getting a b***ocking in a meeting one person after another would stand up and say ‘I’m Spartacus’” (you know, from the Kirk Douglas film). But it came out “Oym Sparrrtacus” as though he was a refugee from The Archers.
All I could manage was: “I didn’t know Spartacus came from Gloucestershire” before the pair of us collapsed into uncontrollable giggles. Just writing about it now makes me laugh at the absurdity of it.
Fun at work? We need more of it and firms like Google, Ben & Jerry, Xero etc. have all proved that fun is good for business. In the above image I am pictured my team (I’m in the centre) having a bit of fun posing.
Put simply, fun:
- helps build camaraderie;
- increases productivity;
- generates more trust between colleagues;
- improves decision making;
- makes employees more enthusiastic;
- enhances employee satisfaction and loyalty;
- makes team based employees work together better;
- encourages creativity and innovation for a better workplace and bigger profits.
The average toddler laughs or smiles 400 times a day on average. That drops to only 15 times day by the time you’re 35. That’s really rather sad…
Deliberately building fun into your workplace can have a huge positive impact. In The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up, (Gostick & Christopher, 2008), the authors concluded that fun workplaces provide a large range of benefits for the employer. Here’s a list of some of them:
- Harder working employees.
- Higher retention rates
- Employees have a more positive view of the organisation and are far more likely to become a great advocate of the company.
- Stress levels are lower and employees take fewer sick days.
- Conflict and tension between employees that does exits breaks down far better in an environment which is perceived to be fun.
- Employees who feel their workplace is fun put more effort into helping others.
There’s a nice (allegedly true) story about how on a beautiful spring day one of the employees at the Thiokol factory in Utah asked if the people on the factory floor could do something fun — say, head outside and fly paper airplanes — if they met their quota two hours early. The manager agreed if the workers exceeded their quota by 50 percent. The manager had nothing to lose.
By 1.30pm they had hit 100% of their day’s quota, and by 3pm they’d exceeded 150%. Out they streamed, into the sun and had paper lift off.
Think how much you, your team and your business could achieve if having fun was a regular part of your working week. Incorporate fun into your working week and you’ll see increases in motivation, productivity, efficiency, enjoyment and camaraderie. What’s not to like?
About Kate Russell:
After studying for a degree in business law, Kate qualified as a barrister. She gained several years’ experience in operations, moved into human resources and later became a training specialist working in the manufacturing, distribution and service sectors.
She started Russell HR Consulting in 1998 and now divides her time between advising businesses of all sizes on HR issues and delivering a range of highly practical employment law awareness training to line managers. She is the author of several practical employment handbooks and e-books.
They have guided Clifford Towers, and some of our clients, on a range of HR issues over a number of years. During that time, they have provided general HR advice on employees’ rights and employers’ responsibilities, helped with restructuring and performance management, dealt with flexible working requests and even supported the business owner through the removal of a particularly toxic employee.
Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK. Subscribe here for free resources and weekly tips and call 01908 262628 if you need any HR support. You can also follow Kate’s Blog, as well as join her on Facebook Page and follow her musings on Twitter.