All Work & No Play??

In today’s world of work, there are two types of key decision makers that we encounter on a daily basis:

there are those key decision makers who are ready to make things happen and those who prefer to watch things happen. Embracing the value of fun, the power of “play”, and the joy of laughter at work is for those key decision makers who are ready to make it happen. The sheer magic of “playing” together creates a feeling of community in which employees and employers are truly connected, where they operate more effectively with each other, and celebrate their achievements, both individually and as a group, therefore positively impacting productivity. The play’s the thing that unites co-workers. Gone are the days when simply working for a paycheck was enough of a motivator to keep us going back to work each day and to keep productivity levels up.

When “play” is encouraged and integrated within the work community, it is received as permission for a time out from an all-too-busy world of work to regenerate and rebuild energy, and as motivation to complete the next big task. “Play” helps us to feel engaged, manage stressors, open lines of communication, and foster employee relationships…all created through fun and laughter. “Play” achieves the goal of bringing people together and allowing them to interact in an extremely unique experience where the atmosphere at work becomes much more appealing and people begin to see, as well as appreciate, qualities in their colleagues that they had never witnessed before. Nothing else compares!

Raising Fun Levels

Take a look around and check out the number of companies and organizations who are committed to this whole new attitude towards “play” at work. Position your company as the “Employer of Choice.” It’s no surprise to HR professionals that creating a healthy and balanced “work/play” organization is fast becoming a competitive advantage in today’s world of work. Embracing the value of fun, the power of “play”, and the joy of laughter at work is your commitment to raising motivational levels while empowering people to embrace a whole new attitude at work. Building better workplace teams and strengthening workplace organizations is the desired outcome.

I’m absolutely convinced that this is the ideal marriage between the bottom line and a workplace culture which resonates of wellness and well-being. Without a doubt, “play” at work is an innovative leading edge practice that factors into shaping your company’s success. Your company is a great place to work, right? Your goal is to get employees to be happy where they are and to all be pulling in the same direction. When we invite fun, play and laughter into the daily grind, it allows us the power to de-stress in a hectic work environment. It is not only important to encourage the activity of play, but to also make people feel good about playing.

Incorporating Play at Work…“What Do I Do?”

Many decision makers have recognized strength in this new attitude towards a “play at work” strategy and have fully integrated this attitude into their best practices model.  The outdated incentive programs like a 3 week vacation for every 11 and a half months of work, or coffee breaks, or gym time before or after work hours, are being replaced by alternating “work tasks” with “play tasks” on a daily, or at least weekly, basis.  This strategy is quite fundamental and will pay huge dividends, whether you’re responsible for training and development, staff retreats, conferences, team building sessions, or any other organizational and/or employee-wellness programs.  It gives employees the sense of the reward immediately following the task.

  1. When planning for the upcoming year the first step to best address incorporating play at work is to organize a set of standards in your best practices model around the driving belief that we all need to have more fun at work.  Make it an annual or bi-annual commitment to check in as a team, to continue to remain open to “play”, to break down any social or professional barriers, and to remember to remain flexible.  As a decision maker, focus on enhancing the value of your organization’s services by integrating this attitude into your best practices model now and in the future.  AGMs, Staff Meetings, Staff Appreciation Events, etc., will all become more appealing, while at the same time invigorate your staff.  This type of approach will be viewed as leading edge for your organization, the workdays will be more meaningful, and your employees will enjoy the total work experience.

  2. Over the past couple of years, it has been quite encouraging to see companies slowly coming around by taking a closer look at the value of fun at work.  They believe that fun at work, happy and engaged teams raises positive workplace mental health levels. While there may be different objectives as to the reason they want to harness the power of fun at work, here are some of the more common reasons:

    Create a Productive Workplace Environment
    Keep Valued Employees
    More Engaging Opportunities for Staff Training & Development
    Improve Employee Communication Practices
    Workplace Strategies for Mental Health

  3. It is extremely important to perform due diligence.  Rediscovering the joy of “play” at work is a whole new attitude and a perfect vehicle for affecting positive change within your work environment.  Respect that if you’re going to take this message to your staff, ultimately it starts with you; you need to embrace a refreshing, personal philosophy towards “play”.  So look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after me:

    I invite playfulness into the routine workday.
    I empower people to stretch their imaginations through creative play.
    The capacity exists within me to maintain play’s momentum.
    I play and feel good about playing.
    I don’t need any special equipment. Heck, I don’t even have to be in shape.

When it comes to embracing the value of fun, the power of play, and the joy of laughter at work, the range of service providers, as well as the techniques they apply, continues to grow in popularity.  There’s been a noticeable increase in adventure activities, extreme sports and creative variations on the deluge of reality shows that we see on television.  How complex does this have to be?  My general rule of thumb is to involve a broad range of staff and management in the planning process yet keep the process simple and filled with lightheartedness and imagination.  Most significantly, rediscovering the joy of “play” at work should never compromise others’ concerns for physical and emotional safety.  A safe and playful workshop experience is one that is carried out with a responsibility to the well-being of all.  After all, at the end of the day, it’s all about a smile on everyone’s face.

I know what you’re thinking: If there’s a simple example that people can easily incorporate at their workplace, what would that be?  I was recently approached by a prominent employee of a multi-national company who shared with me his “All Work & No Play” story.  “I fully endorse taking steps to increasing my play footprint at my particular workplace environment and vow to leave my mark by organizing Fake Mustache Day”, he explained.

“Yes.  Let the true spirit of fun, laughter and playfulness shine through in all that you do.  But why Fake Mustache Day?”, I asked.   “As a baby I was unable to grow a mustache due to a very rare genetic disorder – Nomoustachia Untilpubertyosis.  I grew up with the constant feeling of being incomplete.  Eventually I filled this dark, desolate, void when I discovered a passion for drawing mustaches onto photographs of small children and cats.  Sure they were only photographs but I honestly believed how much more fun the subjects were having with their new found mustache.

In my late teen years through hard work and determination, I over-came my debilitating disorder and grew my own crumb-catcher.  However, as my youth slipped away, so did my passion for the mustache photos.  Then abruptly at age 32, it was completely crushed when I was thrust out of my parents’ basement and forced into the cold, cruel world called life.  I had to get a job.

Years passed and I survived.  My job became a big part of my life, in fact my job was great, but something was missing from the workplace – Fun.  Suddenly my inner child was re-ignited as I recalled painting a nicely waxed Fu-Manchu onto my sister’s baby portraits.  Of course!  FAKE MUSTACHE DAY!  Where my co-workers would be able to experience the same fun as my touched up portraits; relax, laugh, and play, all with the help of a tiny piece of plastic.”

Now, go ahead.  Make it happen!  Have fun!  Play!  Show your staff how important they are.  It’s amazing how people will look past former professional differences, communication conflicts, social status, and personality style differences when they are enjoying themselves at work. 

And your company will prosper.

Leave a Comment