In the past, people went to the workplace to … well, work. And that was it. Employees had their nose to the grindstone from 9-5 five days a week.
They didn’t celebrate birthdays or holidays. They didn’t have a happy hour or Christmas parties. Going to work was not fun. Fun was reserved for after work or the weekends.
This type of work routine has led to health problems. With employees getting so stressed and burned out, companies are losing out on productivity and watching morale decline. Too much stress has been linked to heart attacks and even death.
Fortunately, companies are looking to change that. They’re injecting some fun to the work day by adding fun perks such as game rooms, music, and free food. Some even offer massages and field trips.
While this may seem more like recess than a day at the office, consider that employees are enjoying these benefits and, as a result, feel more committed to their companies. These elements of fun alleviate stress and result in a boost in creativity.
Technology giant Google is well-known for having a fun office culture. Known as the happiest company in America, Google receives a whopping two million job applications every year. Only 1 in 130 applicants get a job there.
So, what makes Google so special? Bowling alleys, work-life balance, high pay, pools, and conference bikes. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Working at Google is an experience that many people dream of.
If you’re looking to boost morale in your office, you don’t have to be Google and spend millions of dollars on fun perks. Creating a happy office environment doesn’t have to break the bank. With more appreciation for employees (and maybe some candy!), you can transform your office from dull and boring to fun and exciting.
If you’re a manager looking to boost productivity, try these tips to make the office a place your employees will want to work at 40 hours a week.
Recognition is important.
Nobody wants to work in a place where they bust their butt 40+ hours a week and receive zero recognition. Who wants to win a $1 million account and have their boss sit there and berate them for not doing more?
Employees want to be recognized for a job well done. Implement Employee of the Month programs that come with cash awards. Give out monthly bonuses to top performers.
Don’t overlook birthdays and anniversaries. Do something special for employees on their birthdays. Take the whole team out to lunch at a swanky restaurant. Buy a cake and enjoy some camaraderie in the break room. Offer gift cards to the birthday boy or girl.
You could do the same for work anniversaries, but, perhaps, offer special gifts at milestone anniversaries, such as when employees reach the 5, 10, 15, and 20-year marks (and beyond!). Make these gifts special by finding out the employee’s hobbies and interests and tailor the gifts accordingly. Not everyone wants a gold watch or commemorative pin they’ll never wear!
Involve the team in a fun project.
Video is becoming increasing popular. Create a fun marketing video that involves the entire team. Showcase a new product or service while allowing the team to have fun and show off their personalities. If anything, you’ll get a few laughs from clients.
Depending on your industry, investing in a 3D printer can be a worthwhile investment. Each team member can create a 3D model of one of the products the company offers. These creations can then be used for marketing purposes. Use them in client presentations and post photos of them online. You can also display them around the office so everyone can show off and discuss the project they created. This can help build camaraderie.
Hungry employees are often moody and less productive. Help them get over their hunger pains by bringing in food on a regular basis. Many companies keep the refrigerators stocked with a variety of options.
Don’t forget candy! A chocolate bar is a great way to destress after an important client meeting. Have a variety of candy types and other snacks available in the break room so that employees have something to nosh on when they need an afternoon pick-me-up. Think nuts, trail mix, granola bars, chips, and cookies. They won’t last long, so be sure to replenish as needed.
You could bring donuts or other breakfast items every morning. Weekly pizza parties are another option. How about a catered lunch several times a week? Food will fuel your employees. Plus, it’ll give them something to look forward to.
We’re not talking about water or soda, here. Alcoholic beverages can be just the thing to help employees unwind after a long day. Some companies have on-site happy hours combined with staff meetings, while others have regular happy hours outside of the workplace.
While your employees will likely have no qualms about drinking while on the job, alcohol consumption can be a liability issue for companies. If an employee guzzles a few beers while at work, and then causes an accident while driving home, you could be held liable. While most employees will drink responsibly, you could have one rogue employee who ends up being irresponsible with alcohol and ruining it for everyone.
A happy hour allows employees to bond and spend time together. However, this can be a slippery slope, so either allow a one-drink limit in the office or have happy hours off the premises.
Take a field trip.
Fresh air and a change of environment can rejuvenate your employees. While Google employees often go on summer picnics and ski trips, your company may not be able to accommodate huge outings. That’s fine. These aren’t the only options to help your employees feel refreshed and ready to work.
Take the time to get outdoors and in a different environment. It doesn’t have to be anything too complex or crazy. Take a walk around the block with your team. Have meetings at a local park. Eat lunch at a new restaurant. Spend some time volunteering with a charity you support.
As a last resort, you can schedule time for staff to work outdoors. This won’t be a good idea in the winter, but, when spring arrives and the sun is out, have employees work outside after lunch. While you don’t want employees to get a sunburn, the sun has a recharging effect that will make your employees more productive. This is especially helpful after eating lunch, which can make some employees feel sleepy and groggy.
Wellness has been a hot topic lately, and for good reason. More and more people are taking great strides to quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthier, and exercise more. Because sedentary lifestyles contribute to poor health, more companies are finding ways to get employees up out of their chairs and moving around more.
While Google has swimming pools and gyms, your company doesn’t have to invest in treadmills or hire a contractor to dig a pool just yet. There are many low-key ways to incorporate fitness into your workday without spending a dime.
You can have sit-up and push-up challenges among staff. Every week, the team can take time to do their push-ups or sit-ups. You can compete against each other or try to improve upon your previous session.
You can also set aside specific times every day for all employees to get up and take a 15-minute walk. You can all walk together or separately. You can follow the same path each time or change it up.
Another fun idea would be to have workout sessions on a regular basis – perhaps once or twice a week. You can bring in an exercise DVD or get a video from YouTube and have everyone work out along with it. Since some employees may have physical limitations, so find something that’s low-impact and tailored toward beginners.
While you may not like the idea of four-legged creatures running around the office, employees would love the idea of bringing their pets to work. Pets in the office increase productivity while reducing stress. Employees won’t have to rush out at lunch or quitting time to get to their dogs and cats waiting at home.
You don’t have to allow dogs, cats, and birds in the office every day. Give it a trial run and see how it goes. Allow them for a slow Friday and see how it goes. If you notice any positive changes in your employees’ mood, you may want to allow furry and feathered friends more often.
Office challenges provide a break from the workday and get everybody involved. When it comes to choosing a challenge, the sky’s the limit. You could have a cooking competition or bake-off. You can have a ping-pong or foosball tournament. How about a soccer match or baseball game at a local park?
Grab a karaoke machine and have a sing-off. Use office supplies to make paper airplanes, and then set them off in the parking lot to see whose can fly the furthest. You can also have competitions involving crossword puzzles and word searches.
Find a fun challenge that most employees will agree to and offer small prizes for the winner. You’ll get to see your staff’s competitive side and watch them get motivated while they have fun. You don’t have to do this daily but, perhaps, on a weekly basis like on a slow Friday afternoon.
Many schools have spirit days on which students wear school colors, crazy hats, or costumes. You can easily implement this same concept in the workplace.
Instead of casual Fridays, take it a step further and have a theme. For example, you could ask staff to wear specific colors, ugly sweaters, beach attire, mismatched socks, or sports jerseys. You could tailor this based on your office and industry.
Have fun with the holidays. On St. Patrick’s Day, have employees wear green. Have employees wear red, white, and blue on Independence Day. When Halloween rolls around, have a costume contest and offer prizes based on categories such as the cutest or scariest.
Around Christmas time, have a cubicle decorating contest or ask employees to wear ugly sweaters. You can also have an office Christmas tree and ask staff to decorate it together as a fun team-building event.
Offer stress relief.
Deadlines and work overloads can cause mental and physical stress. Your employees would love the idea of unwinding with massages. Hire a masseuse to help relieve your employees’ stress. You can also help them unwind with yoga and meditation classes.
Having fun at work doesn’t have to be a huge production. There are so many little things employers can do to make going to work fun for staff. You don’t necessarily have to install a gym or water slide. There are many low-key ways to create a fun atmosphere that makes employees happy and, therefore, boosts creativity and productivity.
Creating a fun office culture doesn’t have to be costly or take away from the work that needs to be done. Companies like Google have done it successfully, and they still make profits. A fun office culture is a great way to attract new talent, especially Millennials who aren’t prepared for work life in a cubicle.