I’m a fun loving person by nature and have a very dedicated “work hard/play hard” mindset. Even in the very earliest days when my friends and I were working 24/7 from a basement we still took time to blow off steam by playing a friendly game of foosball.
While we’ve moved from a basement to our own building, our company has never really lost the desire to have some fun on the job.
All of that is fine, but a fun-loving culture is harder to maintain as you grow. I want my employees to work hard to make the business successful, but I also realize there are times when people need to take a break and do something else, just like we did all those years ago.
I think a lot of businesses have difficulty in balancing the work/play dynamic within their business. Sure, you want to be the “cool” fun-loving company, but you don’t want staff goofing off and ignoring their job responsibilities.
Is it possible to have a fun work environment and still get work done? Should a business even care if their employees can blow off steam at their job?
Well, I think so, and I want to go over some of the biggest reasons I think it’s important for a company not to exclude play from their work culture.
Work and play aren’t mutually exclusive
Sometimes I think people try and compartmentalize their lives and fail to see how much different parts of your day bleed into one another. It’s impossible for a person to completely switch off the “fun” side of their brain as much as a company might want that.
Even if a person is working in their chosen field will still crave time to laugh on the job and loosen up a bit. No one wants to spend 8-10 hours of their day in a place that makes them unhappy, regardless of the benefits.
Businesses try so hard to put their employees and themselves in a box. Forget fun, forget friends, it’s business time. This misguided effort to maximize results usually backfires, when giving your employees a fun environment will cause them to be happier and produce better results.
I’ve had my nose to the grindstone several times, and sometimes you just have to power through and get stuff done, but it’s not good for anyone to keep working without having a pressure release.
Sometimes I’ve found taking a step back from the problem will cause us to approach a problem from a new perspective. Plus, after a long day with people pulling overtime, you want to reward them with some time to relax and take a breather.
Understanding that you can never fully separate play from your workplace is key in balancing out the desire to play and keep your employees on task.
Give your employees a community
A lot of businesses think having a fun work culture means fun objects like smoothie machines or ping pong tables, but it goes beyond that. Sure, having fun items in your workplace is part of it, but you can also have fun in your weekly meetings.
How you and your team interact with each other on a daily basis is the most important part of creating a fun work culture. Furniture and games can’t replace the relationships you form in an environment where you can joke and laugh.
Back in those early days of starting a business, the sole reason we were able to survive is because of our strong friendships. Sometimes starting a business together can ruin a relationship if you’re not clear on expectations, but in our case, it bonded us closer together.
When your employees view themselves as part of a group they are going to want to do their best because the rest of their team depends on them (unless they are the wrong person, but that’s another blog subject). They’re going to put their heart and soul into their work and even put their nose to the grindstone. Not just because it’s part of their job, but because they want their team to succeed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do think having fun stuff is important (it’s one of the reasons we’re having slides put in our new building), but seeing your employees as family is key to cultivating a healthy balance between work and play in your office. All the fun stuff an office can have just facilitates friendships, it can’t replace them.
Investing in a fun workplace isn’t a waste
When we decided to build our new place, we could have saved a lot of money by not including things our staff would enjoy, and I understand why some people think we’re crazy for putting in so much fun stuff in a building dedicated for work.
Investing time and money into making your building have space for people to get away from their desk and just catch a breather is important. View your workplace not only as more than build relationships that benefit your business.
Sometimes it’s so easy to focus only on money and how much you’re spending on employees happiness. I truly believe because we hire people who are Happy & Grateful they need an environment that encourages that mindset.
Knowing my team wants to finish a long day at work by going downstairs and having some fun with team members fits our core values, and is a long-term investment.