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How can HR Facilitate Fun at Work? Workplaces are no longer the conventional brick and mortar buildings, where people clock in and clock out, thanks to the influence of technology & social media

By Suvodeep Das

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"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one." – Dr Seuss

As the lines between work and life blur, the growing influx of the younger generations in workplaces has brought in myriad changes, not just in the ways how work is done or how workplaces are perceived, but in also in the expectations, needs and wants of the workforce. Workplaces are moving beyond the place where one goes to do a job; rather, they are becoming the home-away-from-home, the centre of one's social life, with colleagues becoming close friends, mentors becoming the voice of wisdom and hence the workplace becoming an extended family.

Can There be a Case for Not Having Fun at Work?

Richard Branson rightly said; "Fun is one of the most important-and underrated-ingredients in any successful venture. If you're not having fun, then it's probably time to call it quits and try something else." Every organization, irrespective of its position on the success chart, knows the value and the impact of a happy and engaged workforce.

While employee experience is linked to various tangible and intangible factors like Remunerations & employee benefits like Meal & gifts, one aspect that is fast acquiring prominence is "fun at work'.

Companies which are seen as "fun' places to work at are often at the top of best companies to work with.

Organisations can no longer ignore the impact of fun at the workplace on the overall employee experience and productivity. Rather, the tangible benefits of promoting fun at workplaces in the overall employee experience can be far-reaching.

Work and fun can and should be, mutually inclusive for sustained growth. When work is fun, there is passion, creativity, innovation and growth; when it is seen as a drudge, there is stress and stagnation; when it is seen as a place to earn rewards there is at times unhealthy competitiveness. In the next few years, India is poised to become one of the top nations with the youngest workforce, making it all the more imperative that workplaces are equated with "fun' and not just means to earn a living. So how can organizations/HR facilitate fun at work for a better employee experience?

Workplaces Should be Cheery, Not Dreary – Airy, well ventilated, brightly lit (whether with natural or artificial lights), clean work/offices spaces are always a joy to come to. Enhance the fun quotient, especially during festive seasons, with greenery, decorations, lights etc. If work conditions demand a sanitised atmosphere, bring the fun element with a dash of colour on the walls, or fresh flowers at the entrance.

Encourage bonding and building of team spirit through friendly competitions between teams, not necessarily related to work. Games need not be restricted to off-site meetings or brain-storming sessions. A tense meeting when followed by an impromptu party/stand-up comedy act/book-reading session/football game not only dissipates tension but also helps the employees bond.

Offer benefits like the Meal benefit so that employees get the freedom to choose the meals they wish to eat with their colleagues during workdays.

Celebrate personal milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries or even the date of joining an employee. Recognising and rewarding contributions are fine, but when the boss remembers a team member's date of joining and celebrates the same, the employee feels valued. A well-designed Digitally-enabled Rewards & Recognition program goes a long way in boosting employee engagement. Remember to celebrate personal achievements also. Felicitate the employee who ran the marathon.

Encourage Communication and Free-thinking- Offer flexibility. Be supportive of new ideas. Work does not necessarily have to happen within the walls. Encourage employees to develop/follow interests besides work & also share the same with colleagues and co-workers. Have a display board/corner for in-house art, a magazine for the budding writer/poet, or a wall for the photo-enthusiast.

Fun at work enhances the employee experience. Morale, productivity, creativity all receive serious boosts when the "fun' quotient is up. The festive seasons offer great opportunities to encourage the staff to "let down their hair' and have fun. Fun at work need not be an expensive proposition. All it needs is flexibility, empathy and inclusivity– and a healthy dose of imagination. So let us have fun at work – today, tomorrow, every day.

Suvodeep Das

Vice President, Marketing, Sodexo BRS India

Suvodeep is the Vice-President, Marketing at Sodexo BRS India. His mandate is to run marketing, & communication, launch new technologies, products & anchor the brand’s Digital transformation.

He has 19 years’ experience working in various roles in the field of Marketing and Brand Management.

Before this he was the Global Marketing Director at Greenlight Planet Inc. where he managed Marketing, Advertising & communication for the brand across 40 countries. He created a new identity & brand proposition for the brand Sun King & launched several new products & services.

Prior to that, he was the Marketing Director with Reliance Brands Limited. He established key practices like Digital Marketing & CRM across a portfolio of 14 international fashion bands & launched 3 brands in India – Brooks Brothers, Thomas Pink & Superdry. 

He joined Reliance from Kaya Skin Clinic. He used to Head Marketing, communication, PR & New initiatives for brand Kaya globally. Some notable achievements of his stint at Kaya were relaunching the brand & its retail identity, exponentially increasing the brand awareness & preference scores and launching a robust CRM & Loyalty program.

He moved to Kaya from Marico Ltd. in February 2009 where he was the category head for the Hair Oils portfolio with a P&L responsibility for brands like Hair & Care, Silk and Shine, Shanti Badam Amla and Nihar.

Before Marico, he worked at Western Union Financial Services as the Marketing Director South Asia responsible for Marketing and Communications in SAARC countries & Inbound Marketing from Europe and APAC.

He has previously worked with Hindustan Unilever for a year as a Brand Manager & with Ogilvy advertising for 5 years on brands like Dove, Cadbury’s Perk, Sunlight and Comfort.

He holds an MBA in Marketing from Pune University and an MDP in General Management from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. Amongst his various accolades, he was featured amongst the “Young Marketers of the Year” in Brand Equity (Economic Times) in 2005 and among the top 50 Fintech leaders in Asia in 2016.

Suvodeep is an avid follower of Formula 1 & Football and loves to travel.

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