The research that has gone into this subject is not new and there is a large scientific body of work that demonstrates how happy employees make more successful companies.
The truth is, a little fun in the office can go a long way to improving office efficiencies, by helping employees work more cohesively together, enhance the sense of urgency and purpose in their tasks, and perhaps this last one is the most encouraging – attract the right kind of staff.
Taking work seriously is one thing, having fun while doing so is quite another. But at the end of the day, “employee benefits” reach far outside your businesses' employee benefits program. There are a number of cost-free ways to keep the gears of business humming along.
These suggestions aren't for your father's workplace. No, sir.
One successful tool in creating a healthy workplace culture that is rooted in employee satisfaction and a results-based mentality is a video series called “Fish Philosophy.”
Fish Philosophy was inspired by the high-energy, fun loving work environment at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington state, and reiterated in a series of workplace videos published by Chart House Learning.
The premise of the video is simple: to make work more rewarding, seek ways to add a little fun into each process.
In the case of Pike Place Fish Market, employees would sing while they work, call out orders with a sense of humor, not a limiting sense of stoic professionalism, and allowed employees to let their hair down, engage with customers in a fun albeit politically correct way, and introduced an element of “gamification.”
Now this isn't to say that yelling “Incoming!” before throwing a stack of files onto a neighbouring desk is appropriate in any office. However, through implementing a series of “gamified” ways to reach internal KPI's can keep employees happier and on-task.
Anyone who has ever trained their dog, or helped a child with their homework knows that rewards that appeal to subjects often create positive results. You do not need to purchase the expensive Fish Philosophy video set to achieve this.
Here are a few simple tricks to help improve morale and create an environment that rewards positive results in positive ways that employees appreciate more than a pat on the back, or the infamous “feather in your cap.”
Instead of using fear tactics as was the status quo of previous workplace culture iterations, make project-based KPI's into a game of sorts through rewards.
Reward the best, instead of punishing those who need improvement. Eventually the best of the best will shine, and those possibly not cut out for the job will eventually catch on or leave on their own accord.
Rewards can include simple low-cost items, like popular DVDs, gift certificates, or a free lunch in the company cafeteria. Make a big deal out of the winners and you'll find by doing so, you may also thin out the less productive in your employee roster.
When I was young, I once worked as a manager in a high-stakes, soul-crushing call center which served high-end clients with big budgets. Focus on details was key and upon discovering that mistakes were being made on a company-wide basis, the top brass decided to evaluate staff and try to figure out what was the matter.
What came next shocked and inspired everyone.
Instead of employee interviews with loaded questions like “So, what exactly is it you do, here?” -- the company threw a summer dance party and BBQ for all staff. The next day we came into the office, there were foam balls, free energy drinks, and a revamped lunch menu. Employees were encouraged to have a little fun and release stress throughout the day.
Within three business days the results were remarkable.
Staff suddenly cared again, and those details that were once overlooked or ignored became opportunities for employees to show gratitude to their employer for not taking the “dark path” to employee layoffs and consequences.
Invest in People
Online internal training programs which educate staff about their own job further, or allow them to learn about other department jobs and processes on their own time will also provide remarkable results.
Some of these results include:
- Allowing the employer to identify where employees are stronger and weaker, so they may be promoted to a department or task that better suit their skill set.
- Employees are given an opportunity to see the bigger picture, and how their job affects those in other departments. Internal Training Programs (ITP for short) will allow your team to invest in themselves, while working more cohesively inter-departmentally as a whole.
Image by Nguyen Hung Vu via Flickr