If your idea of having fun in the workplace is ordering colorful Post-Its, it may be time to hit the reset button and rethink your employee engagement strategy. For those of you who have made inroads and are looking for super easy and affordable (or free!) ideas to implement, we’ve rounded up a few just for you.
1. Host a book club. Invite team members to bring in their lunch, or treat them to one, and ask for their insights, opinions and takeaways on a book collectively chosen by the group. Make sure you offer book options that won’t make people sleep with their eyes open and ones that have at least some relevance to the work they do.
2. Organize office potlucks or bake-offs. Allow employees an outlet to show off their creative culinary skills. Leave it up to them to determine if they want it to be a competition, and consider offering the winner a gift card if they decide to go that route. Whether you get everyone to vote on their favorite dish or not, free food is never a bad idea. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for members of different teams to meet and interact with each other.
3. Guess the childhood photos. Ask everyone on the team to bring in a childhood picture, then pin them all up on a board and have employees try to guess who’s who. This is also a great way to gather fun facts about team members — you may not have known someone played baseball or had a mullet.
4. Host meetings in exotic locations. No, not the Bahamas (you wish!). It can be as simple as running downstairs to a coffee shop. A change of scenery can not only help break up the monotony of the day, but employees are often more inclined to open up in a more informal, relaxed setting.
5. Allow for play time. Throwing around a frisbee or paddle-boarding may not be feasible for you, but consider something more low-key such as leaving out board games in the kitchen, break room or wherever employees tend to loiter in between projects.
If there’s one thing you DON’T want to do, it’s to force fun down someone’s throat. Here’s a checklist to make sure your fun ideas don’t backfire.
6. Provide volunteering opportunities. Whether it’s raising funds or raising awareness or even just raising spirits, offering employees opportunities to volunteer can not only boost engagement but also help a good cause.
7. Celebrate employees’ birthdays. This is an opportunity to bring out the kid in everyone. Make sure you’ve set reminders on the calendar so you don’t forget. It depends how far you want to go with this, but it can be something as simple as having the team sign a birthday card or taking the entire team out to lunch.
8. Organize team outings/get-togethers. Whether it’s something as simple as taking folks out to lunch or organizing a more elaborate get-together in or outside the office, it’s important to make sure you’re enabling members of the team who may not interact with each other every day to bond with their co-workers. Even if it’s a quick team activity, it can help foster trust and increase collaboration.
9. Bring your children/pet to work day. This may not be feasible in some workplaces, but if you have the means to do so, open up your office even for a few hours to children and/or reasonable, house-trained pets. It’s fun and also a great way to humanize employees and learn something personal about them beyond the workplace.
10. Snacks, anyone? Have executives cart around coffee/tea/snacks to cubicles during a busy season. This was recommended by a number of sources online, but I don’t see why it couldn’t work if ANYONE carted around goodies to people’s cubicles. Free food = fun, people. Always.
Tell us in the comments below: What do you do to propagate fun in your workplace? Are there any activities you’ve tried but recommend ditching because it didn’t work?