Do’s and don’ts for integrating fun into your office:
Offer one-time events, they often get more engagement than recurring events.
- This may not be true for every company, but in our experience if you want to get your employees involved in something, make it a one-time thing. When an event happens every week, it’s easy for people to push it off to the next week.
- If you can offer both recurring and one-time events, definitely do both, but if you can only support one of these, my recommendation is one-time.
Provide a common area or a handful of common areas available throughout the office where people can congregate.
- If you have a small office a simple way that you can make a better work environment for your staff is to make a common area where they can get to know their colleagues better.
- Place something interactive in the common space, whether it’s a puzzle, a quote board, or a basketball hoop—give your staff a natural icebreaker to help them get to know one another.
Have events that are fun but slightly competitive.
- Chili cook-offs, blind wine or beer tasting, or similar events are a great way to facilitate a natural ice breaker for your whole office and get people together around something that has nothing to do with work.
- These types of activities allow personalities to come out and people to bond over really weird and fun things—sparking conversations that never would have happened at their desks.
Do it right, if you’re going to do something for your employees, don’t bother unless you are going to do it right.
- If you can only afford two mediocre parties, then knock one party off the calendar and make just one really great party.
- Get creative: if your budget is limited spend time getting to know your employees so that you can plan something thoughtful (instead of expensive). Maybe you have a bunch of coffee connoisseurs working for you—rent a cart and spend the morning being their personal barista.
Make fun mandatory.
- If you make employees attend something, it is no longer for them but is really for you and to them it will feel like work.
- Along the same lines, as you plan events be as flexible as you can about RSVPs. I have found that the more you push people to commit to an event, the less attendance you actually get. So be as flexible as you can be with RSVPs and more people will show up and participate.
Treat parties like “work parties.”
- If you plan your party like a “work party” it will feel like a lame work party and people will have their one obligatory drink and then skip out as soon as you’re not looking.
- Plan your parties like you are planning a friend’s party. Would you hand out drink tickets to your friends? No. Would send your friends a list of rules a week before the party? No.
Get hung up on perks.
- Perks are important: food in the fridge, beer in the kegerator, music on throughout the office can all make the workplace more enjoyable for your employees but these things are all just vehicles for more water cooler-type conversations in your office.
- Take a look at your office and think about the folks that work there, what would work best for them to get them up, walking around and bumping into each other? It can be as simple as throwing a couch by the coffeemaker.
You want to get to know your employees better and for them to know each other better so that they are happier and more productive at work. When people build relationships in the office they work better across the organization, share more and look for more opportunities to solve problems together because they respect one another’s unique perspective. All of this helps build a strong foundation for the success of your business, while building a place that you love to go every day.
Author Credit: Mel Torgusen
Mel Torgusen is the Director of Empowerment at PaySimple. Amongst the many perks she's enjoyed at PaySimple since 2009, she is most grateful for the option to wear yoga pants to work.
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