Managers: How to Create a Fun and Happy Workplace

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Work and fun at the workplace, can they, or better yet, should they go together. Well yes, and better yet, yes! It’s not by chance that at Team Dynamics we say our Team Building Activities are Serious fun. We know how to have fun at our work and be productive, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t create your own happy workplace.

Managing through fear is a poor, outdated and very unproductive policy. Times are changing and with that your workforce, their expectations and will. As a leader, first make work “fun”, and productivity will follow.

“We don’t quit playing because we grow older; we grow older because we quit playing.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Even managers that don’t care about their employees, care about productivity. So bear this in mind: a happy workplace has happy employees that are healthier and more productive. Not only they produce more in the same amount of time, they are less inclined to be sick and miss work. You might not overlook the importance of having fun in the workplace, after all.

Mostly everybody would rather be someplace else than in an office working. But that doesn’t mean that workdays must be boring and dull. See it as an investment. Like investing in technology, if your employees have fun at work, everybody wins: your company, your employees and, at end, you!

So, how can we create a fun and happy workplace?

Games and activities

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We not just talking about Team Building Activities (but if you’re up to it, you know where to find us).

You probably already know that a lot of companies have some kind of recreational equipment like ping-pong tables and a music studio as perks. Some even have a special day where they take their employees on team outings to a trampoline park. Probably you can’t go as far as Google, offering a heated swimming pool and an indoor slide. But that doesn’t mean your organisation can’t provide fun. Organizing a football, padel or other team challenges like bowling can have a bigger impact than you think.

Even a small outside the office “petanque” game with a special prize, like the best car spot, can sparkle the motivation in your team.

KNOW YOUR WORKPLACE

Do your workers really know your company and workplace? In most companies, new employees receive the standard training, a quick round tour with a HR junior, who is always in a hurry ……and the “newbe” is set to go.

We, at Team Dynamics created a totally personalized activity for each client so that their employees learn more about their company and their physical work environment. This helps participants to better understand your business while learning about the facilities in a Team oriented goals.

The better a worker knows his company the more he feels at home. This kind of comfort engages him with the organisation main goals.

Gamify your team tasks

There was a bus driver in New Delhi that hated his job. The amount of traffic and people always crossing in front of his bus caused him a lot of stress. One of many Indian Gurus asked him what he liked to do in his spare time. Video games!, he answered.  Why don’t you see your job as a video game, where you can have the same challenges and goals?, the Guru replied.  And the bus driver never had another stressful day at his job.

Not all jobs can be seen as a video game. But with just a hint of creativity, you can gamify your team tasks. The goal of video games, or any game for that matter, is to provide fun. So, when thinking of creating a fun environment at your workplace, remember that all good games need do following check list:

  • Games have goals.
  • Goals provide challenge to players.
  • It is the mental challenge of a game that provides the fun.
  • If the challenge is right, the player is in a state of flow.
    • If the challenge is too easy, the player is bored
    • if the challenge is too hard, the player is frustrated

«A game is a series of interesting choices»

From Sid Meier (designer of Civilization and other classics)

It’s presenting interesting mental choices and challenging the player/worker that will engage him to his tasks.

In a more elaborate version, Raph Koster’s book A Theory of Fun (2005) focuses on humans as pattern matchers that seek to find the pattern in any game, and find the game boring once the pattern has been found.

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The flow channel. (Csikszentmihalyi 1990, 74)
Graphic: See source

Therefore, your job as a leader is to create a constant dynamic challenging situation that will keep driving your team into new and exciting challenges.

Like games, in a modern office environment, without goals tasks don’t work very well. Rubik’s Cube, for instance, is only interesting when trying to complete it since it has little expressive potential.

Encourage friendships

Either you like it or not, your employees will create a complex relationship between them. We are social animals, so, if you have a team of people, they will connect in some kind of way. We believe that creating friendships is the best way.

“People with a ‘best friend’ at work are up to 7 times more engaged than those who aren’t.”

Tom Rath, author of Vital Friends

Workplace friendships can also help you develop a compassion culture and altruistic team spirit. Employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture reported higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork, as well as a reduction in sick days, according to this Harvard research.

But more that stats and academic studies, you can see how obvious this is. If you have a friend at work, it means you have support. Someone to share the good things and someone to cheer you up when their bad.

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If you’re not planning to automate your entire workforce, you better start encouraging friendships at your office. You can find a lot online of easy ways and small ideas to make a workplace better and to help foster friendships between your employees. But Team Building is one of the best tools to do just that (we’re a Team Building company, so we can be a little biased, but you know we’re right!).

If you have friends at your workplace, you are less inclined to search for other job offers and more willingly to commit to your team goals. That’s a no brainer.

Wait, but wasn’t this a Team Building Article about “how to create fun at the workplace”. Well, when you want to have some fun, do you call a friend or a person you don’t like?

Conclusion

Cynics to our healthy and fun workplace theory argue that friendships can lead to group thinking, wasting time, carelessness and cause more damage when friendships fail. They may be right, but only in environments where leaders don’t care about their team members and managers that are not clear about their team’s purpose and about the organization’s vision and values. If you clearly set your values and goals, you can allow people to be the social animals they are and let nature follow their course.

And by nature, we mean YOU, the manager!

You need to set the course, direction and goals and then a fun and happy workplace will be a strategic advantage.

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