Sunday, July 28, 2013

Want to create an excellent workplace – then relax and have some fun!

As a leader this statement is probably not what you expect to be saying to yourself and the staff on a Monday morning. However according to research there are very few excellent workplaces in Australia and one of the key elements that makes an excellent workplace is the ability of staff to relax and have some fun.

The researchers found that primarily, the fundamentals or drivers for an excellent workplace are mostly about people rather than about machines, policies, and corporations. In particular they are about relationships between people.

There is no doubt that developing excellent workplaces is a serious business. Rearchers have consistently found that in excellent workplaces there was a relaxed environment that allowed work to be more than just pleasant. Having fun is a key marker for establishing excellence.

It is very hard to imagine any workplace being excellent if staff are miserable or abrupt. Similarly, industrial prisoners do not make excellent workers. In excellent workplaces, humour was sometimes part of the way stress was alleviated without detracting from the job at hand. ‘Laughter is good medicine’ was certainly a key element.

Humour was also used in presentations and the personalising of workspaces. While some events were planned and part of a social programme, it also seemed that spontaneity was an important element – always within the bounds of safety.

Every excellent workplace they studied had something different to offer. One workplace they visited had recently discovered that one of the team was a professional Elvis impersonator by night. His workmates and the management loved his stage act, which they asked him to bring to work for the morning teatime entertainment.

In another workplace the management had a regular day when they reversed the standard roles and served the employees morning tea. A considerable amount of research highlights the links between stress, productivity, and performance. The notion that ‘fun workplaces also tend to enhance learning, productivity and creativity, and reduce the changes of employee burnout or high absenteeism’ is a common theme.

Creating the environment that encourages your staff to have fun was shown to be more beneficial than programmes designed and implemented by human resource departments. Spontaneity was important.

If you are creating an excellent Australian workplace, having fun appears to be a good indicator that you have quality relationships where staff are relaxed and feel safe in doing so.

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