Yes, There a Place for Fun at Work

by Doug Claffey

Celebrating National Fun at Work Day

National Fun at Work Day on January 25 is the perfect time to think about the role fun plays in the workplace. Turns out, your organization — as well as your employees — can benefit from more of it.

A fun workplace can be an indication of an engaged workplace

Fun encourages presence, participation, and teamwork. It breaks down barriers. It promotes bonding and a positive culture where employees are better connected to your organization. Fun also spurs creativity, productivity, and enthusiasm. It’s a great stress reliever, and it gives people something to anticipate. Fun at work may even help your organization attract and retain top talent — and that’s good for the bottom line.

But fun doesn’t have to mean frivolous

Some might consider fun at work to be a waste of time or something that interferes with productivity. But done right, fun promotes the sense of teamwork that increases long-term employee engagement and strengthens your culture. On the flip side, a tunnel-vision focus on results can discourage togetherness, hurt performance, and even drive people away.

Do what resonates with your organization’s workplace culture

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fun at work — and it can be simple, too. Involve food, games, contests, or something that benefits a charity. The point is, know your culture. Do something that’s likely to encourage participation and teamwork.

One Top Workplaces winner celebrates Bacon Day. Another has Food Flash Mob where food shows up spontaneously (“Second floor! Cupcakes!”). When it comes to fun at work, what’s important is to choose what resonates with your organization’s culture—and make sure it’s supported by senior leadership.

Just like most initiatives, fun at work must start at the top

Leaders are responsible for creating a culture that encourages people to give their all—and fun at work is no exception. The Fun Dept. drives this point home in its new book, Playing it Forward. “Leaders launch the fun; informing employees that it’s not only ok to have fun, but that they are going to be right there with them.”

So don’t be afraid to participate. Embrace the mantra of retired four-star general and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell: “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves.”

Mark your calendar for January 25

Celebrate National Fun at Work Day. But don’t stop there. Find opportunities to encourage fun every day. Embrace it and get involved. Otherwise, your employees will hesitate to engage and your organization will fail to realize its benefits. And that’s no fun.