Employee engagement is important. When employees are engaged with their roles, they tend to be more productive, and they’re less likely to look for jobs elsewhere. This helps your company avoid the costs of disengagement and high turnover.
There are many ways you can boost engagement among your workforce: You can make sure employees understand the value of their contributions, help them better appreciate the company’s mission, offer perks or salary raises, and provide them with training and opportunities to advance their careers.
Those are all important points to keep in mind. However, it’s also important to remember a simple truth: employees are more engaged when work is fun.
Of course, “simple” and “easy” are not the same. Knowing you should cultivate a positive, fun working environment is one thing, but achieving it is something else entirely. And “fun” at work is obviously a tall order.
Still, as an HR professional, pursuing this goal is one of your responsibilities. If you’re working with management to try and make your organization more fun for employees, the following points may help.
Include Fun in the Office Design
Your office design plays a crucial role in setting the tone for employee experiences. If it’s bland and generic, they’ll find it harder to get excited about coming in to work.
Avoid this by coordinating with management to set aside areas of the office reserved for fun. Depending on your space and your budget, these areas can feature games, arcade machines (as long as the noise won’t distract other employees nearby), comfortable furniture for socializing, free snacks and beverages, or anything else that seems practical, appropriate, and effective.
Yes, you may need to establish certain guidelines about using these areas. You don’t want employees to be so distracted that they overlook their duties. That said, creating fun spaces is a simple way to let your workforce know the office is an environment where having fun is not only permitted, but encouraged.
Plan More Events
It’s important for employees at any company to feel as though they’re genuinely members of a family—or at least, a friendly, collegial group. If the only time they feel connected with work is when they’re at work, they won’t be inclined to stick around for a long time. This can have a negative impact on retention.
To promote that friendly group feeling, get together with other decision-makers at your organization to plan fun events for employees outside of the office.
Don’t make the mistake of connecting these events with work. Some organizations host events that double as training sessions. While this may sound efficient, it can be difficult for employees to truly relax and socialize when they know they’re supposed to be absorbing information. Instead, focus on planning events your team members will genuinely appreciate.
The nature of these events will vary from one organization to another. Company happy hours, picnics, and dinners are common enough, and for good reason—almost everyone enjoys good food and drink, especially when the tab is on the house. Depending on your crowd, you may also want to consider activities like bowling, a movie night, a brewery or winery tour, mini golf, a group trip to a local museum or landmark, or even a cooking or art class.
Of course, the first step in planning any event is to discuss the topic with managers and executives. The more people you involve, the better the odds you’ll come up with strong ideas. You can also conduct a companywide survey to see what interests people the most.
Success comes in many forms at a company. Everything from securing a major client to completing a small but important project counts.
Remind management of this fact. It’s much easier to facilitate a truly positive working environment when both major and minor wins are celebrated.
That doesn’t mean throwing a party every time an employee completes a task successfully—praise for every little thing will eventually come across as insincere. There will be many instances when it’s enough to simply send a mass email to the staff to let them know about a recent goal the organization has achieved. The main point to remember is that your workers will be more excited to show up when the company celebrates and spreads good news, however you choose to do so. This helps to curb toxic negativity.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
No matter how much you try to make work fun for your employees, at the end of the day, it’s still work. Even when people enjoy their jobs, doing something 40+ hours a week isn’t always fun. And of course, most people feel that their family and friends are more important than any job.
Because of this, it’s important to help employees maintain a good work-life balance. Embracing flexible scheduling options, allowing employees to work remotely on occasion, and including work-life balance in your organization’s core set of values can give your workers the time to participate in the other activities they enjoy. When they’re able to have fun in other areas of their lives, they’re more likely to have fun at work.
It’s also crucial to remember that promoting a fun working environment takes time. You can’t change the way your employees feel about your company overnight. That said, by working with managers and committing to the process, you can eventually reap major benefits.