Employers scramble to attract and retain the most creative and productive workers, seeking ways beyond compensation to lure and cultivate top performers. University of Florida researchers found that fun was crucial to productivity, creativity, and cooperation with colleagues.
To make your office a fun and positive workplace, here are some things you can do:
This means trusting your employees. Workers who complain about being micromanaged really feel like they’re not being not trusted. This creates a company culture of politics, secrets, and stifled creativity. A Gallup poll found that the most effective managers are those who nurture an environment of trust, accountability, and transparency.
Freedom requires a two-way give-and-take between managers and employees. Leaders must be transparent about company finances, hires, promotions, and goals, and they expect employees to be open in communicating their own challenges and concerns—as well as ideas and innovations. Accountability is also key— managers should be held to high standards and must give reports, identify problems, and work to rectify when goals are not met. Likewise, employee freedom only works when goals are set, and a system is in place for tracking and reporting numbers.
A recent Deloitte report found that it takes more than employee engagement to give your company a competitive edge—passion is where it’s at. Find ways to allow workers to follow their own passions, including cross-training in roles that interest them. Schedule a portion of their work week for self-initiated projects, even those that do not directly contribute to the company. Create a system where new ideas are encouraged and quickly implemented—with no risk of punishment for unsuccessful projects that provided valuable lessons.
Change Up the Scene
No one loves meetings, and mounting evidence suggests that frequent office meetings stifle productivity. Instead, look at evidence that nature inspires creativity and also lowers stress and distraction—and take note that walking meetings are heralded for their ability to inspire creativity.
Scheduling a meeting away from the office is a great way to change up the dynamic and get people away from their computers and phones—especially if it involves being outside. Think about spending an afternoon at the beach, hosting a rooftop meeting, going a hiking expedition, or visiting a botanic garden.
Build Effective Teams
Human connection is the stuff that makes life go ‘round, and politics can be the death of office functionality. Encourage employees to organically form their own teams based on job roles and projects they’re engaged in. As a team leader, be flexible about the roles and tasks your employees take on. Get to know each member personally, understand their goals, and make each person understand their own significance in the organization.
People with friends at work—or even suspect the promise of a friend at work—are found to be happier, more productive, and more loyal employees. One study found that Generation Y workers rank socializing as their favorite fun activity, while a famous Gallup poll found that people with a BFF at work are more likely to praise their co-workers, feel important about their job, and report other high measures of job satisfaction.
The great business leader Stephen Covey said, “Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival—to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.” Find reasons large and small to celebrate. Build ways to acknowledge individuals, their teams, and the entire company for goals met, efforts made, and new ideas that are generated—and don’t forget to uphold bold and inspired failures that taught great lessons.
Having a hard time connecting with employees on the fun front? Form a committee to brainstorm and implement a series of efforts to inspire your workers and bring them together. The group might brainstorm or poll the office to come up with a list of on-site programs (lunch and learns? weekly cooking classes?), equipment (Ping-pong table? hula-hoop room? campus zip line?), or events (karaoke meetings? whiskey tasting?) that are sure to encourage a positive, company-wide vibe.