Are We Having Fun Yet?

January 31, 2013

We have all read about the famous (or infamous) Google perks.  On-site medical care, ping pong tables, nap pods and free gourmet food are just a few of the benefits that have thousands of applicants flocking to Google HR.  Increased opportunities for fun and employee freedom in the offices of other Fortune 500 companies are resulting in improved employee performance, an increase in overall earnings and higher rates of employee retention.  What is not as well known is that thousands of smaller organizations and start-ups are applying the lessons of the big boys and bringing fun to their offices.

In CNN’s article How Employee Freedom Delivers Better Business Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations at Google, explains that these perks allow their company to acquire and retain a talented staff who is “exceptional and motivated and who are driven beyond a good job and paycheck.”  Fun activities, down time and a reduced stress level correspond with an increase in creativity and creative problem solving. Entertaining activities can also act as a motivational factor for staff. The Article by Charles D. Kerns PHD, MBA “Putting Performance and Happiness Together in the Workplace” published in the Graziadio Business Review argues that “Performance and happiness go hand in hand in making an organization successful. With both an appropriate performance management system and a positive approach to influencing people that increases happiness, an organization’s key results can more likely be achieved and sustained.”

How can your business experience these types of results without the Google budget? The trick is starting small and being creative. A simple change such as increasing employee freedom has been proven to yield results. Many of the most attractive small companies are matching up job assignments with employee interests. Offering opportunities for your employees to grow and learn more about their field (by attending conferences, classes, webinars etc.) stimulates an individual’s learning, development, personal growth and therefore increases work place satisfaction. Kern’s also states in his article that “An employee’s level of engagement at work, and subsequent happiness, is likely boosted when he or she has the opportunity to do what he or she does best at work – utilizing one’s strengths is a positive experience.” Giving workers the opportunity to employ their talents in the workplace is both an economical and effective way to increase employee satisfaction while simultaneously increasing work performance. Spending a few minutes each week talking with employees about their areas of interest can pay huge dividends for the entire organization.