Don’t forget the fun

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When people think about keeping employees happy, most focus on financial compensation – salary, benefits, and perhaps a bonus here or there.  Astute managers, HR personnel, and others who are in tune with the troops likely include environmental factors including respect, a diverse workplace, and maybe even challenging work.  I’m starting to wonder if FUN is under rated.  

A group of Three Pillar employees began a book club back in January which is intended to promote culture.  From this one hour morning discussion several initiatives have spun off.  We’ve had happy hours, game nights, and an additional book club pop up.  It seems to me that the employees that have been involved in these initiatives are a bit happier, communicating/collaborating better, and more engaged.

Whether these efforts and their impact are sustainable is still yet to be determined, but I can say that the small increase in engagement, passion, and productivity throughout the organization has been worth the investment.

To be clear, I wouldn’t say that we had a bad culture before these efforts started, on the contrary, I think our culture was fairly positive.  Rather, our efforts seemed to be aimed at turning a good culture into a great one.  Our investments included board games, some food and drink, and a little less (perceived) rigidity regarding what people actually do on a Friday afternoon in the office.  Our return has been connected dots, collaboration, smiles, passion, and engagement.

What’s your experience with Fun at work?  Is promoting a positive, friendly, and engaging environment just as important as preventing discrimination, disrespect, and other negative aspects of a culture?  Any ideas for us to make this sustainable and take it to the next level?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    A culture will happen but the team will emulate it's leaders, in other words just like everything it starts at the top. Creating a Work Hard – Play Hard culture takes work just like anything else. Creating ability for others to nominate others for awards, we called them Chevrons, it a good way for people to recognize each other for times when they needed help and someone or a group went “Above and Beyond” or “Customer First” or “Go Getter”. You do have to be careful that is for contributions to the company or a client and not for frivolous things, you want it to be something that has meaning and a desire for others to nominate people.Another way to help bring everyone together is consider buying lunch for everyone on Friday. Yea I know the CFO is taking a big gulp right about now. I have been with my company for almost 12 years and this is something that does cost as the the company grows but is a way for the road warriors to share stories and internally for others to share victories. I promise you that people talk about this. I will say make sure you alternate the menu. Do things like Wine Wednesday or Thirsty Thursday with leaders and teams informally sitting around talking about work, activities, things of interest to themselves or the team. Keep it informal though.Biggest thing I would say is for the leaders to invest in the teams. Create a culture of friendship and trust. You want the office to be a place where everyone wants to come to work and are looking for ways to make it a better place. You want them to talk it up with family and friends that there is no place like it. Think about it when you were growing up you wanted to be with your friends, you had each others back. There really is no reason why work can not be the same. Give people an opportunity to work on something that interest them in a certain time frame (like 2 days) but they have to present it to the company at the end of that period – good or bad. Even the ones that do not go the way we plan lead to other inspirations.Last create a culture of autonomy, mastery and purpose. I can not take credit for this but these words sum up the culture created by the original founders of my company. Autonomy and ownership result in a drive for mastery and quality. Purpose pushes that even further. With everyone feeling when they come into work like they have a purpose and the autonomy to get it done and master what they do will surprise you. I hope to post on this in the next day or so.Vincent Frankson

  2. David H. DeWolf says:

    Spot on Vince. Thanks for the thoughts. The one thing I would question is the last paragraph – RE what the culture is. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose are great (and unique) values, however, I think it's important for an organization to develop their own. What drives one company is not always the best another. The Zappos culture is great, but their values wouldn't resonate elsewhere. Same goes with these values. What do you think?

  3. Daniel R. Odio says:

    Dave, great post on the importance of culture.In our San Francisco office for AppMakr, we've implemented a Core Values Manifesto — 30 ideals that help cement the culture as we grow: http://go.appmakr.com/manifestoWe also promote a culture of "playing a computer like an instrument" — or, really mastering the things on computers that make one truly productive & efficient: http://go.danielodio.com/instrumentThese things help keep everyone focused & pointed in the same direction, which gives us more time to do "fun" activities. Regards,DROdioCEO, PointAbout, IncCreators of AppMakr.com

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