How to Cultivate Fun at Work

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Employees want to have fun at work, and people spend approximately one-third of their day at work. So it only makes sense they'd want it to be as enjoyable as possible.

According to Quirk's Marketing Research, in the "great" organizations of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For, a whopping 81 percent of employees say they work in a fun environment." Positive work cultures are more productive and having fun certainly falls into that category, notes Harvard Business Review.

The hard part is, "fun" is a very broad and subjective term. There is no way to please everyone when trying to figure out what employees will respond to. On top of that, senior management may expect fun to have a return on investment for the organization in terms of time and resources.

6 Ways to Make Your Workplace Fun

So, how can HR professionals infuse some fun into the workplace? Here are six things to consider:

1. Define "fun"

Organizations need to reach consensus on what fun means for the culture. It might not be the same as an individual's definition. For example, fun doesn't mean unsafe or unethical. Also, fun doesn't have to be silly, and should not ever be profane. The goal here isn't to be restrictive, it's to create a baseline conversation about boundaries.

2. Set a budget

If part of adding fun to work includes activities like ping pong tables and pizza parties, then HR will want to set a budget. Fun doesn't have to be super expensive. That's one of the best reasons to incorporate an element of fun into the workplace culture. It could be trivia contests or allowing employees to wear headphones so they can listen to their music.

3. Ask employees for suggestions

The first thing HR should do when trying to bring more fun in the workplace is to ask employees what they find fun; however, there's nothing wrong with putting some parameters on the request. For example, "Name 1-2 fun things you'd like to do at work that cost nothing." Just be prepared to consider what employees suggest.

4. Look at company policies

Before going out and buying dart boards or organizing an ice cream party, look at existing policies and see if there are some places where a policy can be relaxed (thus creating fun). For example, it might be time to review flexible schedules, dress codes and internet policies as a way to give employees more latitude (which they may find fun).

5. Show HR's fun side

It's OK to show the organization that HR is fun and has a sense of humor. Showing senior management and employees that HR does serious work, but doesn't always take themselves too seriously, can be a great way to increase the approachability of the department.

6. Encourage managers to let loose a little

Some managers might feel that letting loose will hurt their credibility, but employees want to work for a manager who knows when to relax and when to be focused. Showing a lighter side could help managers build positive relationships with employees and create more engagement.

Fun means different things to different people. But it doesn't mean organizations have to banish it from the workplace. HR has a real opportunity to add an element of fun to their culture. If employees at every level of the organization enjoy their work more, that can translate to higher productivity and a more robust bottom line.

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