Put the Fun Back into the Workplace
Highly motivated employees often find their motivation from working in a pleasant office environment. It is to your advantage to make your workplace a happy place for your employees - the more they can play and relieve stress, the harder and more efficiently they'll work.
Here are some creative, action-oriented ideas to help you inject a little "fun" into your workplace:
Allow for flextime. Giving your employees some flexibility in their work schedules shows your concern for their personal lives. In addition, allowing employees to work from home occasionally can be a great motivator, making the days in the office a lot more productive and less stressful.
Schedule exercise breaks. There's no reason you can't copy what many larger corporations are doing these days - squeezing in stretch/dance breaks throughout the day during which employees step out of their offices or cubicles to do a group stretch to music. Every week pick a new exercise and a new stretch leader to get everyone going.
Cultivate fun. Make your office an exciting place to be by holding frequent contests, celebrations, and team-building activities. Surprise everyone by ordering in lunch or by starting out the day with coffee and pastries in the kitchen. Be creative.
Lead with laughter. Understand that taking 15 minutes to laugh will increase productivity, not reduce it. People think more clearly and operate more productively when they've had a break that clears the cobwebs from their brains. Laugh a lot and encourage your team to do the same.
Encourage mini time-outs. Encourage everyone to relieve daily stress by taking a few minutes to do something they enjoy. A small break in the day's routine can really reinvigorate a person's thought process. Take short breaks yourself and encourage others to take them. Do whatever helps you to disengage from the project at hand: work on a crossword puzzle, listen to music, talk a walk around the block, or browse through a nearby bookstore.
Find the humor in negative situations. Lead the way in joking about difficult situations in the company. When people can laugh in the midst of a impending deadline, make fun of themselves after making a mistake, or share the story of a horrendous (but humorous) customer experience, they can defuse a lot of tension and stress. They also clear the way for themselves and others to work on those issues with greater enthusiasm and clarity.
Create a fun squad. Ask for employees' ideas for ways to add fun to the workplace. Consider creating a "fun squad" whose job is to dream up ways to bring lighthearted fun into the office. Let people use their creativity to raise the level of laughter, and there will be creativity left over for more concrete business objectives.
Acknowledge anniversaries. Celebrate the day each employee joined your team. Let them know how much you appreciate their contributions with a small gift, cake, or token of gratitude for the role they play in the company.
Build a "Wall of Fame." Designate an area where you can post pictures of team members, thank-you notes from clients and customers, and clippings about the organization's success. Celebrate your people whenever and wherever you can.
Step out occasionally. Plan occasional group excursions to get everyone out of the office once in a while. Have a group lunch in a nice restaurant, hold an off-site meeting at a museum or botanical gardens, or take everyone on an impromptu trip to the movies.
Designate a humor corner. Transform one corner of your break room or other area into a humor corner. There you can post cartoons, funny quotes and pictures, and other illustrations designed to relieve stress.
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