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When does a “fun” company become all play and no work? How do you draw the line?

Making your employees comfortable with a fun company culture has the potential to increase productivity and efficiency, but there is a fine line between a fun culture and wasting time. This post will discuss. 

Many of us have an image in our heads of the stereotypical office with everyone hunched at their desks, dealing with paperwork or glued to a screen, frantically working like drones in a beehive. Fortunately, most places don’t adopt this “all-work” mentality anymore, and some even encourage playing during work. Google famously has a staff room filled with foosball and billiard tables, as well as video games, if a staff member needs to take a break and blow off some steam. But how does the average company tread that line between drudgery and Funtime Charlie’s, creating an atmosphere where some downtime helps increase productivity rather than taking away from it?

The positives of creating a fun company culture include:

  • Increased Creativity.
    Time to blow off steam can lead to surprising insights, which is extremely helpful for marketing, for example, although any industry can benefit from a successful creative session.
  • Improved Engagement.
    When employees want to come to work more, they invest more of themselves; they take fewer sick days because they’re ill less often because the workplace has allowed them some down time within their work days. Plain and simple, happy employees also tend to stick around, cutting down on recruiting and hiring costs.
  • Increased Productivity.
    Boredom and stress, two unfortunate but prevalent problems at some workplaces, stifle many workers. With a fun environment that allows for less formal interactions, these two productivity-drainers become less of a factor. Laughter alone relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and increases memory. 

So how do you manage this successfully? A good rule of thumb is to strategically plan just when this fun will happen — as a reward after completion of a major project, for example, not in the middle of one. Make sure fun doesn’t replace or become more important than work; you are, after all, running a business. When the fun environment serves to distract employees from work rather than serve as a temporary stress reliever or a break, it’s time to dial it back.

Remember as well that a fun company culture doesn’t have to happen at the company. Employer-sponsored outings, such as pizza and bowling, a baseball game, or dinner at local restaurant can give that same boost to employees, recognition of the need to make connections informally and to blow off some steam. The old adage is true: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”…and a good employer always wants to keep his employees sharp.

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