I had the opportunity to work with a client in early 2020 B.C. - Before Covid- and their workplace had the coolest vibe; everyone was fun, lively, upbeat, and funny. There was an energy… a feeling… a special something that made me want to just hang out in this space and watch these people work. Their work looked like conversation, like fun, like friendship… dare I say, it looked like PLAY. I wanted to bottle their culture and share it with every company I know.
And, then... shutdown.
Since the pandemic (and ensuing social distancing, working from home, and business pivoting that feels like a daily cha-cha) we have lost some of the fun that used to be infused into our work. As we start to move back to work places and venture back into the real world, we need to make sure that we are being INTENTIONAL with our re-introduction of fun. It takes commitment and planning to re-engage the light, lively, and jovial culture that was ever-present in the B.C. way of living.
So, how do companies like Google, SAS, Hyundai, Limeade, and Discover Card create these fun environments that get them recognized as the best companies to work for in America? Very simply, they are Employee Centric. Everything is about the employee experience. The culture is created around what will make people happy, balanced, and healthy. What a breath of fresh air!
Years ago, I went to a training by the creativity guru Bob Pike and he emphasized the need to bring levity and fun into the workplace in order to create a positive employee experience. According to his book, The Fun Minute Manager, a fun work environment is one in which formal and informal activities occur regularly that are designed to uplift people’s spirits and remind people of their value to their managers, their organization, and to each other.
These activities include:
The use of humor
Opportunities for self development
Recognition of achievements and milestones.
Something very strange happens to many of us when we cross the threshold into the workplace, each morning: Our fun gets extracted. It just disappears and we become these really serious, super responsible, weirdly reactive, fun-less people. The fun is, literally, ZAPPED out of us. And, the damnedest thing is, we’re really fun people at home!
Am I right?
Alright, so this week I’ve decided to share some ideas on how we can all duplicate that kind of culture. I think we could all use less pressure and a little more fun. Sound good? And, I know your people would love it, too.
Following, you’ll find 52 ideas to make your workplace more fun. My goal is to give you one thing to add to your culture, each week, so that you can change the vibe, feeling, and commitment levels of those who work for you. Remember, this is about being employee centric and strategically creating a positive employee experience. You can do this!
Build a Wall of Fame
Get Some Toys (koosh balls, pez dispensers, hula hoops, a sand tray, wooden blocks, origami paper)
Set Up a Game Room in the office
Start a “Fun Committee”
Put out a Daily Riddle
Have a marshmallow fight (variation: every time someone says Hump Day on Wednesdays, they should get pummeled)
Create art together
Hire an expert to come in and lead a Laughter Yoga class in one of your Zoom meetings
Compliment someone, every day
Give out little gifts (soda, chips, candy)
Create a Fun at Work Day – only fun allowed, no work
Decorate your workspace to fit your personal style
Pranks, jokes, games, raffles, and goofiness
White Elephant auction (just because)
Create special interest groups around hobbies—and join one!
Have more Happy Hour meet ups, even if online
Give more standing ovations and high fives
Host an Open House monthly, between departments (food=fun and camaraderie)
Have a meeting outside
Build a house for Habitat for Humanity
Run a 5k together
Let the team members choose their “Subtitle” (Queen Bee of All Things Social, Chief Fun Officer, Director of Creative Celebrations)
Have dress up/theme days beyond “Casual”
Wash an employee’s car by hand
Have a mid-week yummy treat on Wednesdays
Set up an on-site dry cleaner pick up/drop off
Give a lotto ticket to each teammate
Office chair relay race
Have a Root Beer Pong competition
Create a Pun-a-thon
Look up the monthly holidays and celebrate the weirdest ones you can find… National Noodle Month, anybody? Why not have a noodle potluck?
Do an Extreme Office Makeover
Have a movie night, in person or using a live watch social platform
Go to an open mic night
Catch a professional sports event
Create a scavenger hunt around the office
Have a dance break as often as possible
Set up a table with a puzzle on it and let people solve it
Create a coloring book station
Go on field trips
Create a daily ritual that everyone looks forward to
Give out silly awards (Best hair, Greatest attitude, Super Man/ Wonder Woman)
Turn up the tunes
Do a mannequin challenge (or whatever is trending) video
Keep a Candy Stash Drawer stocked
Bring a karaoke machine in and stage your own American Idol
Start a Fun Parade/ Conga Line at 5:00 on a Friday and get people out of the office in style
Create a daily office meme
Start the day with interviews like “The Office” to create a little quirkiness and fun
The words "work" and "fun" shouldn't be antithetical. Studies over the last two decades have revealed that when workplaces make fun a factor it creates happier employees who feel more satisfied. And happy employees are all around better at their jobs. Workplace fun has been linked to enhanced motivation, increased productivity, reduced stress, and higher job satisfaction. Think about the things you do every day at work and try to make room for some laughter and team-building fun in the workplace.
So, here's to being goofy and light and free-spirited and silly and joyful and funny and happy and inspired. Go find- and make- more fun. We all deserve more of this.