3 Reason Why You Must Inject Fun Into Your Workplace

“I believe you can change the world, make money, and have fun in business – all at the same time.” – Richard Branson We couldn’t agree more! It’s no secret we here at Great Race believe fun is an absolute priority. It’s well documented that a happy workplace is a productive one. Businesses the world over spend a lot of time and money investing in developing a workplace and culture that is attractive, competitive, efficient and which motivates the top people to give their very best. Take a look at Google for example, to make their workplaces attractive they offer free food, onsite gym classes, laundry services and even haircuts!¹

Why spend so much on work perks? Because it cultivates culture. But here’s the thing, facilities and perks alone aren’t the key ingredient for employee happiness. Sure, no one’s going to turn down free food or laundry services, but its genuine social interaction that really makes a workplace. It’s the banter, the eye contact and the shared experiences. So how then, do you foster positive social interaction at work? You might believe that you don’t want to allow for too much socialising in case you create a workplace that’s too social – it’s decidedly not good if no one gets any work done! And you’re totally right – there’s a time and a place for chit chat.

So how do you create the right kind of social interaction that balances productivity and happiness? Easy. You make time for FUN. You specifically allocate time outside of the workplace purely for your workers to have fun with their colleagues. This could take the form of a Team Building Activity, Corporate Event or Family Day, for example; whichever format you choose though, the intended outcome must be FUN. Why, you ask? Quite simply, you can’t afford not to.

Here are 3 Reason Why You Must Inject Fun Into Your Workplace:

1. It Humanises the Workplace

Games are as old as civilisation itself and have been found in all cultures. In fact, it’s known that humans have been playing games for at least as long as we have been reading and writing, possibly longer. It’s² reasonable to conclude therefore, that the urge to play and have fun is a pretty universal human trait.

For some reason, in contemporary culture we’ve drawn a line between work and play. Tom Chatfield, author of Fun Inc.: Why Games are the 21st Century’s Most Serious Business, explores the relationship between work and play concluding that “games are rigidly separated in the minds of most people from the serious business of work and living […] You work, and you spend a significant proportion of your income on leisure, but the two are mutually exclusive; each invokes its own rigid, and seemingly incompatible, set of conventions.”³ He goes on to make the (excellent) observation that “we are rule-making (and rule-seeking) creatures” arguing, importantly, that “our love of order extends to play.” As the Masters of Fun, with over two decades of
combined experience in facilitating team building activities and general hilarity, we have to agree that this observation is astute.

The Importance of Team Building

And, most importantly, understanding this can have serious benefits for your workplace. Games, like any workplace, are governed by a clear structure and set of rules in order to achieve a specific, measurable, common goal. The difference between work and play though, are the driving motivators and desired outcomes. In a work context, your team is motivated by any number of factors including financial, ego, career projection and so forth. In a game however, you are motivated to participate and win purely because it is fun to do so. Furthermore, in a workplace you are motivated to collaborate and communicate with team members because, regardless of your love for the job, you need to earn a living. In a game for leisure context though, your motivation is to have fun, to win, perhaps to showcase your skills – but there is no underlying bottom line and this makes all the difference.

Okay, so it’s important to take your team out for fun outings. We get it. But why are we harping on about games specifically? Surely we could all just indulge in Friday drinks more often or a pub lunch? Those things are absolutely great, we’re all about socialising with your team! But games, such as fun team building activities, also provide structure and rules. Therefore, unlike other social options, team building games naturally facilitate a complex and powerful set of human motivators: competition, communication, self expression, collaboration, achievement, learning and improvement, all of which are highly desirable for a productive, cohesive, happy workplace. Coincidence? We think not!

As Chatfield elegantly summarises “what makes a ‘game’, as opposed to something more serious, is the avowedly non-functional context it is framed in – the time set aside for pleasure rather than labour.” By taking time out of the workplace with the deliberate intention of having fun, your team operates without the usual underlying economic outcome. By simply removing the ‘work structure’, you give your team permission to be a little uninhibited together. Perhaps you’ve never even seen Jimmy in a casual t-shirt and jeans, and you probably had no idea Mikaela from marketing loved glitter so much! Taking time out for fun humanises your workplace.

The Importance of Teamwork

2. Staff Retention

Any employer will tell you it is more costly to replace a great staff member than to keep them. As the vivacious star of Legally Blonde, Elle Woods, once said, “Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” She’s totally right. And the same can be said of happy staff – sort of. Not the shooting part. ‘Happy workers just don’t up and leave their excellent jobs.’ Stick with us here. We’ve already explained how deliberately taking time out from the workplace with the express purpose of having a great time together, fosters greater team cohesion and happiness. But there are also long-term benefits to this strategy.

According to a 2018 Harvard Business Review survey, the most common reasons people chose to jump ship were “when their job wasn’t enjoyable, their strengths weren’t being used, and they weren’t growing in their careers.”4 If we had a dollar for every time the boss told us they’d ‘never seen their team behave like that’ or, ‘they had no idea Yong was so good at that’ we’d be extremely wealthy! Do not underestimate the power of a structured team building activity for increasing team cohesion, collaboration, communication and overall happiness in your workplace. Changing up the context provides an entirely different framework from which to observe your team’s strengths, identify areas for growth and discovering skills you didn’t know they possessed. In other words, it’s a goldmine for a boss committed to capitalising on their teams collective skills!

Fun isn’t just frivolous. Use fun team building exercises to better understand your team and apply that knowledge to help them grow, apply their skills and thoroughly enjoy their jobs. We’ve said it once already and we’ll repeat it for dramatic emphasis, happy staff just don’t up and leave their excellent jobs. Apply fun and retain your staff.

3. Greater Productivity

It almost goes without saying that a happy, motivated team is more productive than their unmotivated, unhappy counterparts. But how can simply taking time out for corporate team building fun result in greater productivity? Good question. These things aren’t always easy to measure but the difference in terms of productivity from a team comprised of employees who want to come to work compared with a team who do not, is marked. It’s a no brainer, really.
Choosing to engage your team in structured play can really help to shift gears.

Adam Penenberg, author of Play At Work: How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking, notes that games cultivate better workplace productivity and creative thinking because they require players to actively engage in strategy, chance, culture, prediction, uncertainty and consequence analysis. When you’re having fun, your brain is literally5 wired differently – playing a game might just be the breakthrough your team needs! Cultivating fun through deliberate, shared experiences focused on bettering workplace engagement and culture will promote greater workplace productivity.

There you have it! It is so important to take time out for FUN in your workplace because clearly, fun is really great for business! We’re the Masters of Fun, trust us, we’d know. We’ve got lots of great options for a corporate event, team building activity or just-for-fun day out of the office! Reach out to us here if we can help bring the FUN to your workplace! https://www.greatrace.com.au/

The Importance of Teamwork

By: Jamila Hall Date: 05 March, 2020
1 https://www.coburgbanks.co.uk/blog/friday-funnies/googles-employee-perks/

2 Deming, Vasudha K. 2004. The Big Book of Leadership Games. McGraw Hill Books.

3 Chatfield, Tom. 2010. Fun Inc.: Why Games are the 21st Century’s Most Serious Business. Virgin Books, London.

4 https://hbr.org/2018/01/why-people-really-quit-their-jobs

5 Penenberg, Adam L. 2013. Play At Work: How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking. Penguin Group, USA