Outside of a great salary and awesome benefits, many companies have developed systems (which sounds overly serious) to create active, energized and (gulp) fun workplaces to increase employee productivity. If that’s a counter-intuitive concept to you, then you might want to listen up.
While some companies, most notably those like Google, NIKE, Zappo, or Foursquare, have blazed the trail in creating fun workplace environments, there is research to suggest a fun workplace not only improves productivity, but also fosters organizational community, pride, and loyalty. A University of Florida study found employees who had fun on the clock accomplished more and showed more creativity. Likewise, a professor at the Mayo Clinic [told The New York Times] workers don’t take enough breaks, while another study shows regular breaks increase productivity.
On the flip side, recreation in the workplace not only promotes creativity and innovation, which increase productivity and profitability, it also reduces costs in employee turnover and health care. The World Health Organization suggests that workplace-related stress actually costs American companies more than $300 billion. As it is, more than 40 percent of American workers report chronic workplace stress, and other research points to the fact that employee stress squashes creativity and competitiveness.
It could lead one to believe stress is bad for business, and fun is good.
So what are the best ways to take a break, goof off or recharge your batteries that lead to less stress and increased productivity when you get back to work?
Get out of your chair. Do anything that gets you up and moving, whether it’s a walk around the block, running an errand or just visiting co-workers to chat. If your company has a gym, take advantage of it during the middle of the day.
Add fun or relaxation space. A game room will give employees a reason to take a mental break, while a quiet relaxation room could be used for reading or naps during mandatory breaks.
Use fun tools. If you’re a fan of gadgets, use them to manage your productivity and make more time for fun. Check out these mobile apps that can make you more efficient.
Ditch the mundane meetings. Traditional meetings can be boring and a huge time waster. Try different approaches to the traditional meeting that focus on different principles for hyper-productive sessions.
New thoughts on workplace design. Let employees create a sense of ownership by decorating their own spaces, such as with lights or chairs, and bring in personal artwork for the office. Take down walls that separate employees, create open environments, or even standing work stations.
Celebrate good things. Instead of a pat on the back, take time away from the desk to celebrate victories and recognize good work. Take afternoons off or let people out early for a holiday weekend.