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Ideas for Making the Workplace More Fun Without Sacrificing Productivity

written by: •edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 7/6/2011

Sirota Survey Intelligence reports that bored employees are more dissatisfied with their jobs than those who are simply overworked. These feelings lead to lower quality work, decreased pride in employers and diminished innovation. Here are some ideas to help you lighten the mood at work.

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    Some Benefits of Workplace Fun

    Business People Taking Oath The advantages of making your place of work more fun can vary based on several factors, including the field in which you work, the size of your business and even special circumstances such as recent layoffs or other setbacks. However, most businesses can profit from launching such a program. Employees who have fun at work feel better about their jobs, are more motivated and creative, and are less likely to look elsewhere for employment. In addition, when you build a reputation as a fun place to work you will attract the best new candidates when you are hiring.

    Don't be concerned that introducing some appropriate playfulness will put a dent in your budget, either. While you can spend a great deal on oversized toys, video game consoles and other grownup playthings if you choose, you certainly do not need to. Use the following ideas or let them inspire you to come up with your own.

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    Break the Monotony

    Popcorn When you work in a high-pressure or repetitive environment, taking time for fun and humor is a great way for employees to recharge. Consider having monthly or weekly contests that are not work-related but rather play-related. For instance, hold a hula hoop tournament to see how long contestants can keep a hoop spinning and who can "hula the most hoops" at one time. Eating contests can be fun, as well. Tie staff members' hands behind their backs and let them race through a pie or watermelon quarter.

    Another way to have fun with food is to hold a monthly potluck lunch. Provide a new theme for each month and hang a signup sheet for employees to jot down what they will bring. For instance, you might have a taco potluck with spicy beef and chicken, cheese, veggies and other toppings. How about a baked potato potluck? Keep the spuds warm in a crockpot and sign folks up to bring sour cream, bacon bits and broccoli.

    Take a long lunch break and invite your staff to the conference room. Connect a laptop with a DVD drive to the projector that you typically use for PowerPoint presentations and play a rented movie --preferably something funny. Pass around bowls of popcorn and kick back for 90 minutes.

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    Foster Team Spirit

    Teamwork Another benefit of making your workplace a little more fun is that you can build and nurture a sense of unity between staff members and different departments. Team building games need not be complex or lengthy. If the weather is nice, head outdoors for some old fashioned picnic games such as tug of war, a scavenger hunt or a relay race. Make sure to assemble teams with employees from various departments rather than one department against another.

    Indoor ideas abound as well. Provide puzzles for staff members to put together as a group, or have a Bear, Ninja, Cowboy tournament. In this take on Rock, Paper, Scissors, players use their entire bodies rather than only their hands. Two contestants stand back to back and on the count of three, they turn to face each other using their selected poses. For "Bear," put both hands up as though they were bear claws and growl. For "Ninja," hold your arms in a karate-like pose, and for "Cowboy," draw your "guns." A bear mauls a ninja, a ninja chops down a cowboy and a cowboy shoots a bear.

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    Spark Creativity

    Hand Drawing Chart When your team is stumped for new ideas or cannot come up with a workaround for a tough issue, some creative fun can improve imagination and inspire unique concepts. Post a larger-than-life crossword puzzle on a wall in a common area, or simply tack up over-sized sheets of newsprint on which staff members can scribble or play games of hangman. Stock the breakroom with games such as chess, checkers and Scrabble. These activities boost creative thinking and engage problem solving skills while giving employees a chance to forget about the task for a bit and return to it with fresh eyes.

    Exercise is another great way to increase inventiveness. If it is in your budget, set up even a small workout area onsite with a couple of cardio machines and weights. Hang a television in a corner so employees can catch a quick show while they enjoy some fun physical activity.

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    Discover Your Own Ideas

    Perhaps the best way to come up with ideas that are suited for your team is to ask for their input. Your employees will surely be happy to provide ideas and insight.

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    Resources and References

    Sirota Survey Intelligence, Bored Employees Are More Disgruntled Than Overworked Ones, Research Finds, http://www.sirota.com/pdfs/Bored_Employees_Are_More_Disgruntled_Than_Overworked_Ones.pdf

    Bear Ninja Cowboy instructions: http://bearninjacowboy.com/

    Image Credits

    Business People Taking Oath: freedigitalphotos.net/Ambro

    Popcorn: sxc.hu/Adriana Herbut

    Teamwork: freedigitalphotos.net/Ambro

    Hand Drawing Chart: freedigitalphotos.net/Sujin Jetkasettakorn