From basketball courts and slippery dips to video gaming and snooker tables, Google’s offices are renowned for fusing work with play. But your office doesn’t need to have the budget or space of a technology giant to bring some fun into the workplace.
“Neuroscience has proven that if people are in a joyful space, they’re able to manage stress better, be more creative when it comes to problem-solving and have a more optimistic frame of mind that works more powerfully in the office,” explains HR consultant and business coach Shane Warren. “They tend to look for solutions rather than problems and they’re more open to dialogue and taking on challenges.”
However, it’s important that employers take into account the fact that ‘fun’ means different things for different people and you don’t want to isolate certain staff members, warns Fiona Hitchiner, diversity and work-life balance specialist at SeventeenHundred.
“For example, many offices believe that beers on a Friday are a good way to unwind at the end of the week. But this activity can isolate pregnant women, anyone who drives to work or chooses not to drink,” she explains.
“It’s not going to achieve the results that the management would be looking for. Indeed it might have the opposite effect in creating some disgruntled employees who no longer feel part of the organisation.
Here are six ways to add a bit more fun to your workplace.
1. Even the little things matter for fun
Don’t worry if you can’t fit a chill-out lounge in your office like Google. Rather, encouraging everyday behaviours in the workplace, like ensuring everyone says ‘hello’ in the morning or allowing staff to catch up for five or 10 minutes in the morning can all bring joy on a daily basis.
2. Give back to the community
“Group volunteer programs are popular within more progressive organisations in allowing staff to give back to the community during working hours,” suggests Hitchiner.
There are many not-for-profit organisations that host corporate team-building activities at their premises, such as OzHarvest and Dress for Success. M.A.D. Woman is another organisation that helps companies find activities that give back to the community.
3. Grab a bite
Hosting staff drinks can exclude those who don’t drink alcohol, so Hitchiner suggests perhaps having ‘no-agenda team lunches’ as a stress-free alternative that can involve everyone.
4. It’s time to party
Celebrating a staff member’s birthday or toasting the organisation’s recent achievements are great ways to bring some fun into the workplace.
5. De-stress and de-compress
Combat deadlines and hefty workloads with offering your staff quick massages, suggests Hitchiner.
“There are organisations that send masseurs around to give staff a quick, 10-minute shoulder rub,” she says. “It’s both relaxing and isn’t time consuming, so no one will feel like they’re “missing out” on work while they enjoy the massage.”
6. Party in the potty
For something a bit different, Warren has worked with some companies that have introduced an interesting project he calls ‘toilet humour’.
“Where possible, we have created a toilet that is out of the way where people are given permission to hang some of those dirty jokes that sneak around the email system,” Warren says. “Some strong ground rules really need to underpin this process, but when all are agreed there can be fun!”