If you took a poll of your employees today on whether they would like to work someone where fun or somewhere boring, there is no doubt that close to 100% would respond “fun.” Individuals spend almost 1/3 of their waking hours at work, so why wouldn’t they want to enjoy at least some of that time? I don’t doubt that most business owners would like their organizations to be considered fun, but also understand that maintaining productivity is vital. This is especially true for small businesses who are always trying to do more with fewer resources.

A recent article in Entrepreneur gives some great ideas for creating a company culture that is both fun and productive:free-time-422035_1280

  1. Organize challenges: Bring a little healthy competition into your workplace to add some excitement. You could do this company-wide or within each department. Our company did this last year by organizing some members of the company into teams who worked to come up with a proposal for a new product or service that would result in an increase in revenue. Everyone enjoyed working together with their team and competing with the others to have the best proposal. The icing on the cake was the new ideas brought to company leadership, one of which has since been implemented. You can also consider some non-work related challenges. Past challenges at A Plus Benefits include cooking contests, dress up days (best corporate apparel outfit,   best Halloween costume, etc.) and watermelon carving contests. Perhaps you want to organize a Ping-Pong, foosball or corn hole tournament.
  1. Encourage breaks: It may sound counter-productive, but taking breaks actually makes you more productive. Being able to take a step back from a project or issue and come back with a clear head can be invaluable. It’s important to encourage employees to take periodic short breaks. Some suggestions for encouraging breaks include having free coffee, soda or snacks in the break room where employees can step away from their desks for a few minutes. Managers should model this behavior by making sure they take breaks as well.
  1. Socialize offsite: Research shows that employees who have friends at work are happier, more engaged and more productive. One way to encourage these relationships is to provide opportunities for employees to get together outside of the workplace. It doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive event. What is most important is that people have the opportunity to get to known their co-workers personally. They don’t have to become best friends, but making that connection is important. Perhaps you could treat one department each month to an off-site lunch or each manager could host their teams for a backyard barbecue or potluck.
  1. Celebrate achievements: Get your employees involved in celebrating the great things going on at your company. Maybe you have a sales employee who is absolutely killing it, or you beat your first quarter goals, or you have an employee celebrating a milestone birthday or anniversary. Find something to celebrate with your team. People like to feel like they are a part of something great and celebrations remind us of the progress we are making.
  1. Focus on productivity, not schedules: This is especially important for your managers, but may apply to other employees as well. Rather than focusing on what time people arrive at work and what time they leave, focus on what actually gets done during the day. Allowing some flexibility in scheduling allows employees to work when they are most productive. For some employees, occasionally working from home may actually make them more productive than being in the office. Think about what might work best for your company.

Finding a balance between having a little fun and staying productive is important for all small businesses. Do you have some best practices you could share with other small business owners? Share with us on Twitter using the #APlusInsights.