Anyone who’s remotely familiar with Google probably has heard a little about their philosophy of creating a playful, welcoming environment for their employees. The idea behind it is that employees who can blend business and play often display less stress, which leads to better productivity and more innovative ideas. Science agrees!
The trick is in finding the balance between a work environment where things get too fast and loose and an environment that breeds employee loyalty and freedom of expression. Luckily, if you select your employees well, you’ll find that many will produce strong work in a timely manner when they have the freedom to be creative and don’t feel overwhelmed by upcoming deadlines.
Start small – give new employees a bowl of candy or small, inexpensive toys to hand out as they introduce themselves to their coworkers. Allow everyone to decorate their own workspace. Have everyone name a plant for their desk. Once in a while, let everyone take off at noon to have a fun half-day. Just this month, our Zenergy Works team planned an afternoon paddle-boating at a nearby lake on the company tab.
These perks will help keep employees productive and happy. Although nothing beats quality management and strong business philosophy for a successful business, having happy employees certainly helps. Not only will you retain your best talent, you may be more likely to attract business from people who see that you play the game a little differently and aren’t another nose-to-the-grindstone factory-style producer.
Mixing business and play doesn’t just extend to your own office environment. Companies that display a sense of playfulness in their marketing tend to excel in a number of mediums, particularly social media. Depending on your field, the public is often drawn to businesses that don’t take themselves too seriously and can stay on their toes, roll with the punches, be quick on the draw, and other overdone metaphors. You know what we mean.
Take this now-famous example of banter between Oreo and KitKat. Fast thinking with an edge of playfulness creates a wildly popular outcome… and likely cements the initiator as a fan of both for life!
Obviously you might need to walk a straighter line if you’re in something like, say, stocks. But who knows… even E*Trade has that talking baby.
Generally speaking, customers just like to see that your business is full of people with unique personalities and a touch of humor. Don’t get so caught up in old-school professionalism that you forget to let your fun stuff hang out a little.
Well, don’t roll too far off the track, but it doesn’t hurt to get a little off-roading in now and again.