By Kristen Rampe, Special for USDR
Anyone who has ever tried to encourage a child to pick up her toys knows that turning a chore into a game is a simple, fun way to get your child to put her things away. The concept of fun at work is really not that much different, in that even mundane tasks can be enjoyable in a fun environment.
While working with 50,000 row spreadsheets isn’t exactly the same thing as seeing how many toys a 4-year-old can toss into the toy box from an imaginary 3 point line, there are plenty of opportunities to make the workplace a far more enjoyable place. There are also known physical benefits to the increased endorphin production that comes from fun, such as decreased stress and increased relaxation response. Not only that but a single LOL increases feelings of positivity and, in social settings such as offices, feelings of cohesiveness among individuals.
So just how can your team make work fun?
1) The most obvious — find your work fun
When Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” he obviously didn’t have the modern workplace in mind. Even people who absolutely adore their jobs will find themselves tied up with menial tasks from time-to-time, and that’s entirely OK. But the key to having fun at work is finding work that you find fun. If you enjoy the work, even the most menial of tasks can be enjoyable. If every day feels like an uphill slog toward 5pm, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your skill set and consider looking outside of your current position for work you find more fulfilling.
In the 80s comedy Big, Tom Hanks’ character Josh magically transforms from a 13-year-old boy to an adult overnight, and lands a job at a major toy manufacturer “testing” toys all day. Management recognized his childlike vision, and made the most of it putting him to work developing toys for children his real age. Though life is not like in the movies, the same concept can be applied to your own work life. Do what you enjoy and every day can be fun.
2) Small rewards make for big smiles
Many of us labor day-to-day knowing that our paycheck is our ultimate reward for a job well done. But from a management perspective, recognizing employees who go above and beyond with small rewards is an easy way to remind them that you do appreciate all they do. A few options to make your employees’ day:
- A catered Friday team lunch
- Small gift cards for exceptional performance
- An awards ceremony with joke titles like “Best Performance in Weekly Conference Calls” and “Most Likely to Repair Broken Coffee Maker with a Binder Clip and a Rubber Band”
3) Try a harmless office prank
Most of us have seen the now-infamous sign floating around the Internet that states “Please don’t use Comic Sans–we are a Fortune 500 Company not a Lemonade Stand.” It resonated with countless office workers who struggle with the appearance of antiquated fonts on passive aggressive signs floating around their offices. While I don’t suggest anyone start a full-on font war in their office, a little funny sign or harmless prank can add a lot of fun to the workday.
Be sure to know your audience and keep it work-appropriate but if you want a laugh, try placing a Post-it note over the eye of your coworker’s wireless mouse. If you’ve really got some time on your hands, cover their entire desk in Post-it notes on their birthday. The extent of office pranks depends entirely on the culture in your office, but for those who work in more casual environments, don’t be afraid to be funny. Just be sure to volunteer to recycle all those Post-it notes after your prank victim has arrived and is ready to get to work!
So, give fun a try when you’re feeling like you or your team needs a bit of an uptick at work. You’ll be happy you did and so will your productivity stats.
Kristen Rampe, CPA is a consultant to professional service providers, and is the author of the humor book “Accounting Dreams and Delusions”. She provides consulting and customized, in-house CPE to professional service firms who value communication skills, client service and team building. Follow her at http://kristenrampe.com/blog for great ideas on how to improve your practice! On Twitter @kristenrampe