March Madness is in full swing, bringing a little friendly competition and fun into many people’s workplaces. Of course, this has some employers wringing their hands about how all this talk of brackets is distracting their employees and trying to tally up a dollar figure to reflect the lost productivity during the tournament.
But should a job really be all work and no play? Research suggests otherwise. Employee engagement is closely linked to an organization’s culture, co-worker cooperation/satisfaction and brand image. People who enjoy their workplace have more positive feelings toward their jobs, are more engaged, are more willing to recommend the organization, and are less likely to consider resigning.
Many organizations have begun to recognize how incorporating fun into their workplace can help them create a culture that attracts, engages, and retains top talent. The idea behind this philosophy is that engaged employees are more dedicated, produce better work, exert more discretionary effort, and are more apt to go above and beyond their job description than disengaged employees. (Pamela Meyer, author of “From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing Through Dynamic Engagement,” will share some best practices for changing the workplace at the Employee Engagement Emporium Event in Chicago on May 6.)
As an example, consider the online retail organization, Zappos. The mere mention of this brand brings a positive picture to many individuals’ minds, as the organization is well known for having an enjoyable culture. On their website, their “work hard, play hard” mentality is obvious. Employees are “always creating fun and a little weirdness,” and sticking to this motto contributes to a culture where employees like coming to work. Additionally, Zappos recognizes employees for innovative ideas during fun awards ceremonies throughout the year, thus encouraging employees to come up with creative ideas. The fun and creative culture carries over to Zappos’ interactions with customers, creating better business outcomes and a positive brand image of the organization.
Companies do not have to institute drastic changes to make their culture more fun. Small and inexpensive modifications can have just as great an impact on employee engagement and morale as larger initiatives do. Incorporating some of the following suggestions will help create a fun work environment:
- Organize informal lunches once or twice a month to support employees’ interactions with co-workers.
- Schedule a group outing, such as attending a sporting event, to encourage employees to socialize with colleagues outside of the office.
- Establish some friendly competition within the organization by organizing brackets or squares boards for sporting tournaments.
- Place board games or a TV in the break room to give employees something fun to do together while they are on their lunch break.
- Offer to sponsor a team of employees for a running or sporting event to encourage teamwork.
- Encourage your employees to attend educational events and seminars together to aid in career development.
- Organize a yearly staff appreciation event to show how grateful you are for your employees.
Using these techniques to incorporate fun into the workplace is a simple way to create a culture where employees feel valued. As March Madness continues, remember this advice and think twice before putting strict restrictions on the tournament in your office. Allowing your employees to participate in a little friendly competition could actually help your organization.