Is It Cliche to Want to Create a Fun Workplace?
When you create a fun workplace and do it the right way, your business can only win. People can work better and smarter, and still, have a great time. So while fun may be an overused term, creating an upbeat work environment is never cliche.
‘I want my teams to enjoy coming to work. I want them to have fun, but within limits. After all, they’ve got work to do.’ – I often hear this sentiment from business owners.
So how much fun is too much? And how can you strike the right balance?
Well, if you’re asking yourself these questions, you probably still believe that productive work is not much fun, and thus when you’re enjoying yourself, you can’t be very productive.
This notion has been hammered into our minds since primary school, and throughout our work life.
Perhaps this is why quite a few business owners I know are somewhat wary of allowing their people too much fun at work. They are concerned that their work ethics and performance might suffer.
Thankfully, we see ever-growing evidence proving the opposite. Here are just a few insights into how everyone can benefit when you create a fun workplace.
1. Laughter can help you feel AND work better.
A good laugh relieves stress as well as physically relaxes your body, thus making it easier for you to deal with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with others and build better relationships and friendships.
Laughter makes you feel happier, and happiness can transform your performance. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in a positive state you and your people tend to work smarter, communicate better and produce greater results. On the other hand, you’d also know what it’s like when people feel stressed, upset or bored – they can procrastinate badly, communicate poorly, and sometimes make a real mess of their work.
2. Humour can help you feel AND work better.
Humour and creativity stem from similar frames of mind. You need to think beyond boundaries and combine distant concepts in new ways. At the same time, you also need to keep an eye on reality. So it’s no surprise that humour can help open up our creative side, as also shown by studies.
However, I find it especially intriguing how using humour – in other words, tinkering at the edge of reality and absurdity – can help us communicate better.
Sometimes a wicked joke or metaphor is all you need to illustrate a complex idea simply and clearly.
Many people enjoy talking about the news they’ve learnt from comedy shows or performances. This is because messages conveyed with humour tend to capture attention while also engaging emotions – which is how you create lasting impressions and memories.
Then, of course, there’s a myriad of other benefits to using humour in the workplace.
Humour inspires and motivates, and contributes to an inclusive and engaging culture. It creates a relaxed ambience for collaboration, inviting members to express their personalities and contribute ideas. It helps build trust and diffuse conflict and makes it easier for people with different backgrounds to connect with each other.
3. Play can help you feel AND work better.
We’re hardwired to play. This is how we learn about the world around us, and about ourselves, as children. But our desire to play doesn’t stop as we grow up; we keep being attracted to activities with elements of play.
While the wrong sort of play kills time, the right sort can help you and your team kick goals.
For example, some creative businesses frequently start their team meetings around the foosball or pool table. Members are naturally tuned to tackle challenges and speak their minds when playing games. So during these informal conversations, ideas flow freely, and solutions to work-related problems often come to the surface.
When we play, our minds are highly receptive to unconventional ideas. We tend to focus on the goal of the game, rather than what could go wrong, and so we’re not afraid of making mistakes.
For this reason, games are often used strategically in innovation. In fact, some of the most innovative organisations expect their members to adopt a playful approach to solving problems, and credit much of their business success to this strategy.
And as we see in so many areas in life, playing is a wonderful motivator. When you approach a challenge as a game, you become more committed and resilient. You handle setbacks and obstacles better, learn more and achieve more.
So is it possible to create a workplace that’s too much fun?
I believe fun has an essential place in every entrepreneurial business. It’s not a matter of give and take. You and your people can be relaxed and playful, and at the same time, fully committed and productive. Even while cracking jokes and laughing, you can take your job very seriously.
So you have better questions to ask.
- What’s the right kind of fun?
- How can we do things better by playing more and laughing more?
- What is the best time and place to play games and to use humour at work?
Of course, you need to maintain some structure to ensure things stay on track, plans are followed, and decisions are made. Your team needs rules and guidance on what’s acceptable and useful.
When you create a workplace that’s both rational, capable and fun, you don’t need to worry about your team’s work ethic. In an engaging and trusting culture, your people will want to play fair.
Your team will want to contribute, look after each other, and play by the rules. And creating a fun workplace is will never go out of style.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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