Why are you in business for yourself? The reasons vary: To make more money, to have more freedom, to be challenged, because you have a great idea – the list could go on and on.
And I bet another reason is to have more fun. But are you?
Those of us who escaped the corporate world remember all too well how stifling it sometimes can be – the roles and expectations, the changing corporate priorities and ever-present time sheets. Sure it can be fun at times, but it generally isn’t one of the adjectives you think of when describing a drab old job.
And it is also true that if you are in business for yourself or work in a small business, fun may not be a priority either.
But it should be.
Aside from being, well, fun, it turns out that having more fun at work creates very positive bottom-line business results. Why do you think all of those edgy dotcoms have ping-pong tables, chalkboards and foosball sets? They know lightening things up fattens things up.
I can hear you now, counting off the reasons you cannot have more fun at work:
- Your work is serious
- Clients would not take you seriously
- What you do is important
- It would waste too much time
But consider these six significant benefits of re-working your corporate culture to one where having fun becomes a priority:
1. It stimulates creativity: How often have you had that Big Idea while pouring through a thick file? Not often I bet. Now, how often have you had it while on a run or drive, or while playing with the kids or shooting hoops? Exactly.
The fact is, the right brain works best when freed up, especially during times of play. By allowing you and your staff to have some down time, you free everyone up to be more creative.
2. It is a stress reliever: All work and no play does make Tom a dull boy. For people in high-stress occupations, it is often drink and illegal substances that act as the pressure valve, and that’s unfortunate. Having an office where it is OK to goof off a bit and have a good time can prevent much worse down the road.
3. It increases productivity: Every small business has a culture, some are by design, most are by default. What I am suggesting is that by deliberately creating a culture that cultivates fun and creativity, you will get better business results.
One immediate one is that, instead of being less productive, people will be more productive. They will like their work more and will find their job more rewarding. They will appreciate their boss and get the job done because of that.
4. It increases employee retention: An adjunct to #3 is that people who have fun at work and enjoy their job stick around. And consider this too: At a time when money is tight and offering financial incentives is difficult, creating a happier workplace is an easy, affordable way to reward and retain staff.
5. Customers like enthusiasm! We have all been in the boring office where people are clearly going through the motions and some long-forgotten mission statement hangs cockeyed in a tucked-away corner. We endure offices like that because we are there for some reason, but most of us sure don’t go back much, or at all.
The fact is, happy, enthusiastic employees foster enthusiastic customers. Enthusiasm is infectious. People like it. A happier staff that has more fun is a staff that can sell your business to the outside world.
6. It increases communication: People speak and act differently when playing around. By participating in some playful activities with your team, you may learn things and garner information that you otherwise may never know.
So that’s the idea. Lighten it up a bit. That may mean having games like the dotcoms mentioned above, or bringing a Wii to work, or allowing dogs at the office. Whatever. Be creative.
Play: It’s not just for kids anymore.