FUN: The Missing Driver of Employee Engagement & Recruiting

Only 17% of companies feel they have a compelling and engaging employment brand (source: Bersin by Deloitte). One of the central messages in my recent keynote presentations focuses on what is consistently missing from most companies’ employee engagement strategies and solutions for attracting fantastic new talent: FUN.

This woeful absence and missed opportunity is beginning to get noticed and corrected by more and more organizations. Hence, the major rise of gamification in the workplace, and the widespread incorporation of modern perks (e.g., Ping-Pong tables and beer carts) into the employment value proposition.

While these types of fun benefits used to be limited to tech start-ups, companies in all industries are following suit. Why? Because it’s good for business.

Having fun at work helps engage current employees as well as attract top job candidates.

Take a look at the wonderful rap video created by GlobeSherpa, a small tech company in Portland, Oregon. This is quite possibly the first rap recruitment video ever made.

This video shows us how important it is to have fun a work, as well as to openly show that while recruiting. There is no doubt that GlobeSherpa’s current employees had fun making the video as well. You can see it in their faces and feel it in their movements. The video also illustrates how thinking creatively helps organizations stand apart from the standard, same-old competition. Lastly, the video exemplifies that actually showing innovation far surpasses simply saying you are an innovative company.

The best organizations have fun at work

Interestingly, you will not find fun as one of the drivers of employee engagement on survey vendors’ Key Driver Analysis (a formal statistical analysis that identifies the drivers of engagement in order of importance). The reason that fun as a driver of employee engagement is missing is because none of these vendors are asking about it in their employee engagement surveys. Leaving this driver out of the employee engagement strategy is a critical mistake because it’s one of the most impactful means of creating world-class engagement and attracting top talent. Nearly every high-engagement organization makes a proactive effort to leverage fun. I saw this success time and time and time again over 30 years of offering management consulting advice to hundreds of best-in-class organizations.

Some recommendations to get to fun at work

So what can Human Resources do to create more fun in the workplace? First off, carefully look at corporate policies which may be confining and restricting fun and laughter in the workplace. Remove or relax those policies. Specific fun activities that I successfully implemented at the last company I founded include:

  • Take a break to play Marshmallow Dodgeball ‘ it gets the blood and laughter flowing and no one gets hurt! And only $1.87 for a 16 ounce bag.
  • Bring the entire team or a department to an early afternoon movie. Buy popcorn and candy for everyone.
  • Encourage employees to make a workplace video to Pharrell William’s Because I’m Happy song.
  • Create Personal Fact Sheets for each team member and post them in the break room ‘ these sheets enable team members to become closer by knowing more personal information about their coworkers, including their: hometown, favorite TV shows, secret little-known trivia facts, accomplishments and what most engages them at work.
  • Buy ice cream for every team member and take a walk.
  • Shut down three hours early on a Friday afternoon and encourage teams who don’t often interact to mix it up and play Charades, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, and the like.

The reality is we spend way too much time at work toiling away without laughing enough or having much fun. Given the fact that the number one reason people quit is the combination of job stress, work load and a lack of work life balance, what better antidote for curing this costly turnover than fun. What better magnet for being able to hire the best talent than showing them a culture that promotes fun. Don’t forget about fun as one of the drivers of employee engagement.

Your key takeaways:

Laugh more.

Show employment prospects that your organization has and promotes a culture of fun at work.

Leverage fun. It works.

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Kevin_-_PhotoKevin Sheridan has spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant. He has helped some of the world’s largest corporations break down detrimental processes and rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors in the process. Kevin’s newest product, PEER , is consistently recognized as a long overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement, and his most recent book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller lists.