Friday, October 3, 2014

Common Mistakes #4 - Forgetting to Have Fun

Sometimes organizations are so focused on schedules, deliverables and budgets that they forget to take time to have fun. Remember the song “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper?  It’s not just girls, it’s everyone. Taking time out to play can improve team interaction, enhance job satisfaction, and, let’s face it, it’s just more fun.

One definition of “fun” from Merriam-Webster is “what provides amusement or enjoyment." What is fun for one person may not be fun for another.  Different age groups might have fun in different ways.  Try to look for ideas that appeal to different people and make sure that fun activities are optional so that you don’t alienate people who would rather not participate.

Many organizations use the excuse that they don’t have budget to do fun things.  Fun doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of ways to have fun without spending money. We’ve found that brainstorming with our teams is a great way to gather ideas.  At our recent onsite company meeting we did a number of fun activities that weren’t expensive or difficult to do.

  • Game night -  This is easy to do in an office conference room or lunch room.
  • Guess the secret - Have everyone submit something about themselves that people wouldn’t know. Then have everyone to guess which secret belonged to which person.  This activity generated a lot of discussions and jokes over the course of the week and people continue to reference the fun facts.
  • Name the office - we held a contest to name the rooms in our new office space. This sparked a lot of creative names and laughter.

Some other possible activities:

  • Informal happy hour
  • Field trips to interesting local places (museums, Fish Hatchery, etc)
  • Lunchtime movies with pizza
  • Watching sporting events that take place during the day (World Cup, Olympics, etc)
  • Informal group gatherings (birthdays, project milestones, etc)
  • Minute to win it games

Encourage fitness within your teams.  Providing opportunities for people to exercise can be a way to add fun to your work environment.  Exercise decreases stress and anxiety and improves productivity.

Consider some of these activities:

  • Sporting activities (bowling, softball, curling, racquetball, tennis etc)
  • Sponsoring a charity event (walk, run, etc)
  • Fitness challenges
  • Providing work flexibility for people to have time to exercise
  • Walking meetings - get outside and walk and talk on a nice day

Sometimes the most fun can happen spontaneously during informal gatherings in the lunch room or other shared spaces.  Employees can have fun just joking around with each other. Think about ways to bring people together. When people have fun together they start to gel and understand each other. They work together more effectively. In fact, the good times are what they will remember most.  

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