Walking The Line: The Difference Between a Fun Company Culture and Killing Productivity

By Jenny Keller • January 23, 2014

Productivity, motivation, and retention are all human-resources buzzwords that managers know all too well.  Many experts recommend incorporating a sense of “fun” into the workplace to boost productivity and motivation, spark creativity, and encourage employee retention.  But while fun can be a valuable managerial tool, there comes a point when too much fun turns into too little finished work.

How can you encourage a sense of fun and creativity in your workplace while ensuring the excitement doesn’t hinder productivity?  Consider the following tips:

  • Fun down time encourages creativity.  Part of the point of adding “fun” to the workplace is to generate creativity.  However, research shows that much creative thought stems from the moments of rest and recharging we allow ourselves throughout the day.  Your organization may benefit more from the addition of a quiet break room in which employees can chat, doodle, or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee than from a noisy playroom or group outing.
  • Encourage fun to improve productivity.  Think of employee productivity like training for a marathon.  Runners who run steadily throughout their training period find that they burn out without reaching their maximum performance.  Runners who train in intervals, however, get more done in less time without causing long-term damage.  Encourage your employees to use “interval training” to keep productivity and motivation “performance” high.
  • Structure fun into serious projects.  Employees who are pressed to complete a large project on schedule need a release valve – but encouraging them to goof off won’t get the job done.  Instead, consider catering lunch for them or offering a service that runs their essential errands.  You’ll give your employees the breathing room they need to get a project done, while also encouraging them to maintain their focus.
  • Start a company tradition.  Company “fun” traditions create a sense of togetherness and encourage teamwork and problem solving outside of the job setting.  Create an annual tradition of participating in a walk for charity, having a cook-off, or holding an old-fashioned company picnic.  These traditions are a great way to build camaraderie without sacrificing day-to-day productivity.

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Posted on January 23, 2014.