Every year on the last Friday of January — the most drudge-filled time of year, some might say — a minor holiday arrives: National Fun at Work Day.
There’s no day off on Fun at Work Day, as that would defeat the purpose.
And the day does have a purpose. It’s a reminder that employee morale is important for well-being, retention and, yes, the bottom line.
“By having fun with your team, your team is going to work harder, they’re going to be more likely to be able to overcome obstacles together,” said Christopher Bruce, cofounder of the Delaware-based Fun Dept. “You’re more likely to engage and, therefore, your company is that much more likely to be productive. And the thing that happens when you’re productive is that you’re also more profitable. So it really does affect the bottom line. And that’s as simple as it gets.”
Fun goes virtual
The Fun Dept. is a consulting firm that has been bringing fun and team building to workplaces since 2005. One of its past products was a monthly subscription box that delivered a game of some kind for everyone in the office to play on a team culture-focused day.
The pandemic changed the way a lot of teams operated. Remote work became far more common and hybrid workplaces became normal. Setting up an office game has consequently grown more complicated — and more necessary.
“A lot of companies are even finding that they have people that have never met [any coworkers in person],” Bruce told Technical.ly. “How do you develop a meaningful connection and how do you get somebody to have that kind of bond with that company? How are they going to improve retention when people barely even feel like they’re a part of it?”
Instead of boxes of physical game props, The Fun Dept. has developed virtual-friendly games like Connect 4, which Bruce described as “a late-night talk show meets a Game Show Network-type-style show with some surprise guests and interactive elements.”
“It’s a way to deliver a positive message,” Bruce said. “Because at the Fun Department, we’re always bringing values to life, so we try to weave in the core messaging. Yes, we like to have fun, but it’s fun on purpose. It drives back to the bottom line and helps them deliver their message in a meaningful way.”
Fun at Work Day ideas for 2024
There are no set rules for Fun at Work Day, but the fun should be some kind of group activity that suits your workplace, whether remote, hybrid or in-person.
Bruce suggested an interactive game that helps employees get to know their leadership better.
“You could do something virtually where you have people get 10 facts about each of your leaders, and everybody in your team has to guess which of the leaders that fact relates to,” he said. “You can do an elimination-style game where you get down to the last person standing. It’s a good way to humanize leadership that can be a kickoff to a virtual meeting or something like that.”
Other things you can try:
- Zoom has many games you can play with a workplace team, from trivia to scavenger hunts
- Jackbox games are compatible with Zoom. The platform has games that can be fun for small and medium-sized teams
- Make a team Spotify playlist based on a theme (hitting your goals, a relevant theme or even just the season)
- Use an online paint tool like Kleki to create and share artwork with the team
- Have a photo competition where the winning pic gets featured on the company’s social media
“There’s really no end to the fun that you do. But one thing I would say is to think about ways to make it accessible, make it fun for everyone,” Bruce said.
Fun at Work Day 2024 is Jan. 26. While Bruce hopes employers participate in the day, he stressed that fun at work is not meant to be a once-a-year thing.
“Friday is one day, but we encourage you to use that to spark and encourage more fun, do it more consistently. Because, as we say here at The Fun Dept., one-off fun doesn’t work,” he said. “You can’t just have fun one time and hope it’s going to last forever. You’ve got to do it over and over again and show a commitment to fun and value fun in your environment. Your teams will appreciate it, they will thank you and they will work harder if you do.”
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