Creating a Workplace That’s Fun

by WOHe

Creating a workplace that’s fun means more than just blowing up
balloons and serving birthday cake for special occasions. Today’s
employees want to feel respected, and they want to feel that they
matter to the company.

They also want to be kept informed about the company and its
concerns which, if they are made to feel like an important part of
the company, should be their concerns, as well.’

Employees expect to be treated fairly and consistently, and they
expect to be challenged and heard.

That said, employees also need the opportunity to unwind
occasionally in the workplace. For that reason, some creative
“timeouts” for fun and games especially celebrations will help
create happier, more motivated employees, which translates to
greater company success.

Creating a workplace that’s fun is easier for small businesses
such as kitchen and bath dealerships, because the business usually
consists of the owner and no more than 10 or so
employees.’

The fun, however, has to start with the boss. Wear a smile. Let
it be the beginning of a strategy that will make your place of
business a happier place to work.

Set expectations
People generally want to know what is expected of them in any given
situation. In any organization, it’s easier for employees to
achieve a sense of comfort and trust when all members of the
company know exactly what to expect regarding their authority and
responsibility.

To achieve a level of enjoyment and fun at work, some basic
expectations for employees and the company should be defined.

  • Create a fair and consistent environment. Make sure that every
    employee in the company is treated equally. As the manager, your
    challenge is to be sure everyone believes and feels that you’re
    fair and consistent in dealing with all issues. The development of
    policies and procedures is generally the best way to achieve
    this.
  • Challenge people. Whenever possible, try to create jobs that
    minimize constant repetition. Be sure to include job
    responsibilities in which the employee is likely to tackle new
    problems or devise new solutions for their tasks. People want to
    learn and want to be challenged, but they also want to know what to
    expect. Job descriptions are important. Keep the challenge
    positive, and the results will be positive, as well.
  • Be attentive to the people in your organization. Listen to each
    and every employee. When your employees know that you take them
    seriously, they’re more likely to make positive contributions.
  • Communicate success and failure regularly. Be direct and honest
    in communicating with your employees. Show sincere appreciation for
    your employees and you’ll generate tremendous good will in the
    workplace. In addition to daily opportunities to praise, recognize
    and counsel your people, you should be doing bi-annual or annual
    employee performance appraisal reviews. These allow both management
    and employees the opportunity to communicate openly.

Never miss an opportunity to recognize employees for things they
perceive as valuable and important. Then, after every third or
fourth time you’ve dispensed sincere and deserving praise, you’ll
find that your employees will also be very receptive to
constructive criticism regarding how a failure might be transformed
into a positive opportunity.

Creating outlets
People who work and that’s most of today’s adult population spend
more than 10,000 days of their life at work. This is a big chunk of
time, so shouldn’t we be able to enjoy as much of it as
possible?

Fun within the context of the business world means feeling
comfortable being oneself and interacting with others, even while
working and accomplishing tasks alongside of other employees we
like and respect.

Here are a few ideas to stimulate your thinking about the kinds
of outlets you can create for your employees and yourself:

  1. Create an annual apple pie or Texas chili cook-off. Award
    prizes and serve the winning recipe at work.
  2. Organize a company sports tournament anything from ping-pong to
    horseshoes to volleyball to softball.
  3. Do a recipe exchange as part of a monthly
    “bring-a-treat-for-lunch” activity.
  4. Create a “Hero of the Week” Customer Service Award. At your
    weekly staff meetings have everyone tell what “extras” they did for
    their customers. Then everyone votes for the winner and you pass
    around a “traveling trophy.”
  5. ‘Do a company or branch sales incentive (monthly,
    quarterly or yearly). Everyone wins money and the “team” does a
    field trip to the local mall.
  6. If you’re the boss, do a barbecue for your employees at your
    home.
  7. Buy season tickets to a local theater group, symphony or sports
    team. Spread the tickets around among your employees.
  8. Bring in a masseuse and give everyone a 30-minute massage after
    a particularly busy day, week or month. This works especially well
    if you do it during a sale.
  9. Do kid’s day or half-day, and allow the employees to bring
    their children to work.
  10. Organize noontime walks or exercise sessions to boost energy
    and morale.

Company outings
Company outings should be a combination of employee and
employee/family outings. They can create bonds by merging work life
with home life.

A sense of parity is established when a group of co-workers gets
to eat hamburgers and hot dogs at a picnic table with the owners
and managers of the company. The impact of this type of outing is
long-lived.

Ideas for company outings can range from staff meetings at a
pizza parlor to the annual company picnic and/or Christmas party.
One of my most successful programs was when we did an annual
“Company Outing.” It was a Friday-evening-through-Sunday getaway
for employees and their families. (Yes, we even closed on
Saturday!)

We did house boats on lakes, and rented houses in the mountains
and at the beach. We held our own “Olympics,” organized team
functions, played real and miniature golf, and lots more. The
company paid for part of this event, but the employees also
contributed food and money. These outings were looked forward to,
and accomplished the goal of helping make the company a fun
workplace “family.”

Business owners should also take advantage of every opportunity
to celebrate truly important moments within the organization.
Celebrate sales and profit achievements. Celebrate new projects,
completion of jobs, completion of training segments, year-end
success, and similar landmark events.

Celebrating birthdays and anniversaries is nice, but this really
doesn’t promote and/or encourage greater productivity. And that’s
really what your objective should be.

‘Warm fuzzies’
Employees spend half their waking hours at work. It should feel
good being there. So you need to include all employees when working
toward making the workplace clean, fun and interesting.

What I call “warm fuzzies” are important, too. For example, it’s
great to celebrate events and promote activities but it’s also very
important to “touch” each employee directly, and let them know that
they’re valued contributors to the organization.

I’m talking here about a lot of “little things” which, while
requiring minimal effort, will have a big effect on morale. Some
examples of this might be leaving a “thank you” note or a candy bar
on an employee’s desk, or taking an employee who really likes good
coffee out for a special cup of coffee.

Try to make the the “warm fuzzies” you do an extension of
yourself. Remember, though they have to be sincere and timely to
have real meaning.

Here’s a simple checklist to help make working at your company
more fun:

  • Smile. Make a sincere smile a trademark of your company,
    starting with yourself.
  • Communicate. Offer all employees a variety of vehicles for
    communicating, such as memos, voice mail, meetings, e-mail, and the
    like.
  • Allow mistakes. Translate mistakes into problem-solving
    opportunities for employees.
  • Mandate vacations. Make sure all your employees take
    vacations.
  • Create family events. Try to link work and family life in
    situations where employees will have a good time.
  • Support outside activities. Offer company support for outside
    involvement on the part of employees.
  • Encourage healthy lifestyles. Promote exercise, healthy eating,
    no smoking and overall well-being.
  • Celebrate. Take every opportunity to celebrate positive
    situations.

Lastly, remember as the “boss,” you control the “fun pulse” of
your company. Be aware, be alert, and have fun!

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