Fun at Work - 29 April 2014
Fun at work has been linked empirically to a range of positive outcomes: less exhaustion, diminished anxiety, improved engagement, and now in a new study published in the Human Relations journal, it has been proven to reduce staff turnover.
But what makes this research particularly interesting is that it tests three specific elements of fun at work: (i) fun activities, (ii) co-worker socialising, and (iii) managerial support. As you read the following descriptions, consider which one is the least effective in the workplace.
Fun activities: These activities are initiated by the organisation and include team-building sessions, social events and public celebrations.
Co-worker socialising: This is when employees perceive each other as friendly and outgoing, and so they voluntarily interact socially at work and sometimes outside of work.
Managerial support: This is when an organisation’s managers actively allow and encourage employees to have fun on the job.
So which one of those do you think is the least effective? If you chose the first option – fun activities – you’re correct.
According to the study, fun activities aren’t that effective because they’re less frequent, which means the opportunity for them to have a sustained impact on engagement is minimal. Also, many employees don’t value them as much because they’re perceived as overly manufactured and formal, and are therefore viewed as inauthentic and contrived.
Co-worker socialising and managerial support, however, are highly effective because they’re organic rather than pre-packaged. They’re also present in the day-to-day experiences that employees have at work, thereby generating a more evident and longer-lasting impact.
If you’re interested in increasing the level of fun in your workplace, focus less on structured initiatives and more on the following:
- Facilitate light-hearted conversations regularly throughout the day.
- If you must have ‘fun activities’, get employees to initiate and run them.
- Design workspaces that make it easy for staff to interact with each other.
- When you hear team members joking around, join in.
- Share humorous pictures and videos.
- Don ’t take yourself too seriously.
- Smile more.
Considering the amount of time spent at work these days, it makes sense why the latest research is demonstrating how therapeutic, engaging (and productive) it can be to simply pause for a minute and have a laugh.
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