Dear Bosses: Here’s How to Make Work Less Boring
All work and no play makes for bored and unproductive employees. No one wants to sit at a desk and analyze data or type updates all day without any social interaction or change in routine. If you’ve noticed that your employees are bored, lacking motivation, or simply don’t seem to enjoy their jobs, then consider making work more interesting or fun for them.
A recent study by BrightHR and psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper from the United Kingdom found that young employees who have fun at work take less sick leave, work harder, and are more productive. If you want your employees to be productive and content, then making working fun and interesting is a key step. There are many different ways you can make work more interesting, and some will cost the company money, but others are free. Here are some ideas.
1. Bring on the fun
The study unfortunately found that fun at work does little to motivate the older workforce, but 79% of graduates and people who left their formal education said fun at work was important, and 44% believed that fun encouraged harder work (only 14% of 55- to 60-year-olds believed it would make them more productive). According to the study, some ideas for making work more fun include dress down days, office parties, and an office pet. Decorating cubicles or offices is another fun idea. Include games or activities in the break area, and encourage silliness when it is appropriate (such as dressing up for holidays if you believe that doing so won’t distract employees from their work).
2. Include team-building activities
It’s necessary to include team-building activities if you want your employees to work well together. Often, succeeding as a team requires having your employees get to know each other and work together. You may require your employees to collaborate on work projects in order to combine their skills, but make sure to allow them to bond in other ways too. Including fun team-building ideas will help your employees to get to know each other, and can make work more interesting.
Some fun ideas include office trivia or team lunches (some companies budget money for these outings). Catered meals can also make a meeting more fun, and often good conversation arises when food is involved. Finally, consider encouraging your employees to compete in healthy competitions such as get fit challenges, and also contemplate a way to encourage team building while also teaching your employees, such as a training day with group projects.
Of course, some people prefer to work alone; it’s important to allow time for individual learning as well.
3. Give your employees some freedom
Assigning teams can be beneficial at times, especially if you are aware that certain employees gossip too much or lack productivity when they work together. However, when possible, it’s great to allow your employees some freedom in this area. When employees can pick their own teammates, they have the ability to bond with people who they potentially like spending time with.
Researchers from MIT and George Washington University found that employees often are more cooperative in homogenous settings, but they are sometimes less productive in these same settings. So while your employees might prefer to work with others who are the same gender, they might be more successful when working with members of both sexes. Thus, it becomes important to foster their relationships and allow them to have fun, but it might be more effective if teams consist of less homogonized groups when productivity matters. When you can give your employees the freedom to make a choice (whether it be who to work with, or which project to do) this can make work more interesting.
4. Offer incentives
Most of us like incentives, and using them can make work more interesting for your employees. Some incentives will cost money, but not all of them have to. Simply recognizing your employees’ contributions can help boost morale; verbally thanking or encouraging an employee can help. Award ceremonies are another idea. Even a weekly email or other notification program that highlights stellar performance can work. If possible, flexible work hours or telecommuting can also be great incentives; health and wellness programs are also successful, as are point-based systems, performance based rewards, and tuition remission.
If you can reward your employees financially that is a sure way to make work more fun and rewarding, but sometimes that isn’t possible.
5. Take suggestions
Being an approachable boss is a great way to build employee morale. Encourage your employees to come to you with issues they need to discuss, but also ask them to help you make work more interesting. If you are worried that you will get flooded with responses, consider creating a suggestion box that you can keep outside of your office. Or, request that suggestions for fun or interesting work ideas be submitted only through email. You can also set specific requirements if you think your team needs them; they have to understand that although you want work to be more fun, all of you also have a job to do.
If you are able to create a more interesting a fun work environment for your employees, you will probably see an increase in satisfaction, and possibly, productivity.