Developing a ‘comfortable’ workplace is one of the main objectives of workplace design. But what do we mean by comfort? Comfort is defined differently by diverse individuals, teams and organisations that are constantly changing. Contributing to the comfort of a workplace - at a psychosocial level - is the notion of ‘fun’.
Play and fun at work are inevitable, occurring organically in workplaces as employees interact with each other and take physical and mental breaks from their work. Studies suggest that workplace fun is an inexpensive tool for improving engagement that promotes employee job satisfaction, cultivates morale, and improves the quality of customer service. Trends indicate that younger workers desire more fun in the workplace. Indeed, millenials today are likely to regard fun in the workplace as a requirement, not just a benefit. Therefore, managers should recognise the need for creating a playful, creative work environment to recruit and retain a talented workforce.
Fun is an individual employee perception impacted by diverse personalities and ages, andwhat is fun for one person, may not be fun for another person. Sponsorship of workplace fun shows an appreciation of the employees’ time and effort. Fun should occur organically, descending from a positive culture, as organic fun is thought to be more positive than manufactured fun (e.g. the dreaded team building exercises).
Fun may be a needed release from stressful duties at work. Fun workplaces tend to enhance learning, productivity, and creativity while reducing chances of absenteeism and burnout. Play in the workplace may be a mechanism used to build trust, increase communication, and encourage creativity. Play can improve a shared culture by promoting involvement and interconnectedness. A team who plays together stays together and fun can be contagious.
So how can we promote fun in the workplace? Give employees the tools and spaces to create their own organic fun together. What areas in your workplace are considered as ‘fun’ by your workforce? Where do employees go to socially connect?
Keti Malkoski, Schiavello Workplace Research Psychologist
Follow Keti on twitter @kmalkoski