OK, it's no surprise-research shows that the most productive employees are those who enjoy being at work. Now ask yourself: Is working at your office about as exciting as watching paint dry? If the answer is yes, it's high time you incorporated some fun into your routines.
"Some studies indicate that employees who have fun at work and feel their employer values a healthy sense of humor are much more productive and committed," says Gail Samuelson, a communications consultant in the Orange, California, office of human resources consulting firm William M. Mercer Inc. Benefits of office-space fun abound-less workplace stress, increased job satisfaction and employee loyalty, stimulated creativity and improved customer service and productivity.
So what can you do to bring fun to your workplace? There's always employee parties and birthdays, but how about going a step further? Samuelson says that in her office, employees don slippers to increase creativity. "One person gave everybody slippers," she explains. "Now, everybody wears them to all the staff meetings." Samuelson also posts cartoons on a bulletin board and lets workers fill in their own captions or dialog balloons.
Here are some more easy ideas for creating a fun, slap-happy environment:
1. Schedule frequent but affordable social events, such as movie nights, arcade outings or rousing paintball skirmishes (preferably not in the office). Camaraderie generated will spill over into the job.
2. Play games. Turn hallways into makeshift bowling alleys. Distribute small toys, like Slinkies and Nerf balls.
"Research has shown that manipulating toys frees up the mind to be creative," Samuelson says.
3. Let employees personalize their work spaces. Encourage humorous office accessories and décor.
Still, beware: As silly as it sounds, you should take on-the-job fun seriously. It's good in moderation, but taken to extremes, it can hinder productivity.
William M. Mercer Inc., (714) 648-3349, firstname.lastname@example.org.