The work environment is constantly changing, with places like large companies Google, Facebook and Zappos to smaller companies such as FullContact, Moz and Blizzard Entertainment leading the way in progressive motivation and fun work places it can be hard to compete in attracting top quality employees or even holding on to the employees you currently employ.
Most of us spend more time at work than with family and friends and either love it or hate it. So how can you, as a business owner, leader, manager or even an employee can create or inspire others to create a place your employees actually love?
Below are 10 ideas, from the basics and almost “No Brainers” to some new ideas and examples on how to liven up the office and create a great work culture to provide a fun work places to be a part of. This will be drive and grow company culture, meet new friends, grow relationships, bond teams together and help promote what an awesome company they work for and possibly share this information on social media as well. This in turn, can help promote your company and bring in more top talent in the future.
Hire Positive People
More and more, employers are hiring for personality as well as skill. You could have two candidates that are equally qualified, but one has a personality that best matches your team and company culture. If you know your team well, and you should, you can look for qualities in a new hire that will mesh well with the rest of the employees or department. When like-minded and fun individuals work together, they help to feed off of each other. An employee who keeps to themselves is generally the one to be less of a team player. Keep the work day interesting with interesting people. More and more in today’s environment companies and more focused in hiring for a person their personality, but more so in the deep passion and drive for what they love to do or want to do. With this type of person, they are more than eager to learn, train and do whatever it takes to grow and step-up to the next level.
Encourage Personal Growth
Personal growth means different things to each person but allowing people to be themselves and push for their own goals both inside and outside of the workplace goals helps to foster stronger bonds between employer and employees and creates great company culture. Let the employees know you care about who they are and what they want in life both personally and professionally. Allow them the freedom to be who they are, not just their “work persona.” We often hear jokes about the “fake voice” employees use when talking to customers, but they shouldn’t feel the need to put on a “fake persona” with their employer or coworkers.
Some ideas on encouraging personal growth is to allow and reimburse your team in attending conferences, events, training seminars and videos, etc. that will allow them to grow in their own skillsets, see what other industries are doing, the latest trends, network with other professional and get advice on tools, resources, techniques, etc. By helping and supporting to grow and advance your employees in turn this will help benefit the company and the other employees as well by showing you care for people, supporting their grow, your invested in them and so on.
New Hire Welcome Kits & Gift Baskets
Another great way to have fun at work, especially for new employees and on their first day of work that offers tremendous benefits, motivates new employees and help grow company culture is to give new employees a new hire welcome gift, baskets, customized gift box filled with goodies. These new hire gift boxes can include a variety of company swag, use tools and a whole lot more including: company branded shirts, jackets, stickers, mousepads to books, planners, gifts cards to iPads and laptops. Click here to see other new hire welcome kit examples from other companies.
Offer Incentives and Perks
Places like Google, Facebook and Ultimate Software give perks like gym memberships, and have onsite massage therapists. Sounds like a great time, but those perks may not be feasible for a smaller company, so how can you give your employees the Google treatment without spending all the money? Food is a great motivator and a lot cheaper than gym memberships. Bring in food from a local eatery or hire a food truck. Have a bowl of candy at the front desk or in the break room. Everyone needs a sugar pick-me-up throughout the day, and it encourages them to step away from their work for a minute. If you have a bit more money to spend you can plan an outing to a restaurant or take them all to the movies. These events and perks are fun for the employees and helps create team camaraderie, which is what you should be aiming for in your company.
Please be advise and how you set expectations. If you say you will host lunch one a week or a month always be consistent with it. Just throwing out one lunch and saying we have great perks doesn’t shine well with employees.
Costume Parties / Casual Dress
This is where creativity and fun come out. Halloween is one option, but you can hold these parties twice or more a year (for example, best superhero, best group or team costume, etc.) Please note, that some people would love to participate, but just don’t have the funds. We would suggest offering gift cards, stipends, etc. to help some people out. I’ve personally seen this before and experience myself where people can’t afford it and either don’t dress up, call in sick or come in with a bare bones costume and judged pretty harshly for it. These costume parties can truly bring everyone together and have good times when everyone can participate.
Another option is to have a sports day or a superhero day, etc. It’s great to see people’s team choices or favorite superhero. Also, different departments could dress up as one theme and another department dress as another theme.
Many offices allow people to dress how they want or decorate their workspaces. If your workplace won’t allow a free dress code all the time, maybe you can implement a free dress day. For example, Casual Fridays. Encourage the team to discuss aspirations for the future, even if their dreams don’t involve working for you for the rest of their lives.
Create a Game Room / Relax Lounge
This would truly payoff and really create positive moral and increase company culture. The ideal game room is to be its own separate area/room. I wouldn’t recommend utilizing a shared space for other purposed (e.g. a kitchen or a conference room), but it’s very own dedicated space. Some ideas for the game room include: foosball table, pinball machine, Ping-Pong table, Xbox/PlayStation, etc. Another idea, it that an agency that I worked at, they had the team bring in board games and glued all the pieces to the gameboard, as if it was frozen in the middle of playing the game and hung them up on the walls. What a creative idea!
If you’ve ever had a work bestie you know how much more fun work can be. Sharing your lives with the people around you can help cultivate real relationships, which, in turn, makes for a more enjoyable work atmosphere. Encourage conversation that is outside the scope of work. If you see employees chatting in the break room, don’t give them the “get back to work” stare. If the conversation goes long and if the employees are hard workers and usually stay later or does whatever it takes to get the job done, just let the conversation go. If they are not this type of person, I would suggest that they meet after work for a drink to finish their talk. Allowing people to be friends outside of work will make them more productive team members, as they will encourage each other to do well at work too.
Have “Fun Days”
Do you remember, in school, how excited you were for pajama day, or funny hat day? Why did those have to stop when we grew up? Have a crazy hair day, pajama day, or even bring your dog to work day. Allowing this kind of creativity and fun even once a quarter can help turn your workplace from boring to bright! The only day you really get to have a little fun dressing up for work is Halloween, and some people don’t even celebrate Halloween, so do something a little different to let your employees have some fun. As long as the costumes or pets don’t interfere with their ability to work, these fun days can help elevate moods, and in the end, make people more productive. Some ideas could be an office Nerf Gun war. Again, have people bring in their equipment, but my preference would be to purchase these nerf guns for the company so everyone can participate. Another idea is to take a day and go go-cart racing and sometime even taking a day to “Get Organized” and bring in pizza and salad. As weird as that sounds people do enjoy it
Create a Joke Wall
A recent study showed that happy employees are 20% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. Laughter draws people out of their shells, you can’t help laughing when you find something funny, even if you are in a bad mood. Set up a whiteboard, chalkboard or even a wall for people to tack up or write funny quotes, jokes and cartoons. Make sure that all employees know that these should be work appropriate but also to have fun and be creative. Taking a break and looking up funny things on the internet gets most people through the day, but why does that have to be a lonely activity. Share your humor with your coworkers and watch your productivity rise. Depending on how the company office is laid out, you might want to have one in the community areas as well as in the different departments.
Holidays are a great time to get your team together to celebrate. Unlike family holiday parties which usually end up in a fight, a workplace celebration brings fun and levity to the day. You don’t have to throw a huge party for each holiday but offering people a chance to get together and celebrate creates a fun work environment. Have a St. Patrick’s Day potluck, bring in cookies and candy for Valentine’s Day, honor your support staff by getting them gift cards on Administrative Assistant’s Day and a White Elephant gift exchange party is always fun! There are a million holidays you can celebrate, you can celebrate something each day if you want. Don’t forget to also celebrate work accomplishments and goals. If your accounting team met their goal for the month, celebrate them with a lunch out. If Nancy in marketing has worked for you for 20 years bring in a cake and celebrate her work anniversary. Honoring the efforts of your employees lets them know you truly care about them as a person and not just the work they do. In summary, being a professional workplace does not mean you have to give up fun. In fact, I would make this a mandatory requirement as it fully creates a better office work culture and teams and people will be more excited to come to work every week. In America, we work more days and more hours than any other country. If we are going to be spending that much time together, we might as well have a little fun. As stated above, happy employees are much more productive, better to be around and you can aid in their happiness by creating a work environment they are happy to be at everyday. The choice is yours, so go ahead and start being remarkable today!