30 ways to have fun and unite teams

A happy office is a productive office. So says learnpurple's Jane Sunley, who offers 30 ideas to kick-start workplace happiness

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If staff members feel happy and are enjoying their work, they’ll be more motivated and productive. When it comes to the subject of employee engagement, that rule is people management 101.

In turn this means they will perform well and achieve better results for your business. Imagine what this would mean for a team of individuals, all of whom are having fun at work and feel united; working towards one shared goal and vision…

Sounds like nirvana? It is perfectly possible with some focus and determination. For teams to work well together and have fun while doing so, it’s first important that people understand one another’s motivation – what makes that person tick. The fast way of understanding team dynamics is to use psychometric tests. There are plenty of different tests available in the market (just type it into a search engine and you’ll be inundated with them). However, we firmly recommend the tools iWAM® and SDI®.

These tests help you shortcut those first few months of a person joining you, or an individual moving to a new team, where everyone is trying to figure each other out and there’s often an ‘walking on eggshells’ feeling. They help you have honest conversations with your people by highlighting personality traits, management styles (both delivering and receiving), communication preferences and main motivators / drivers (e.g. money, power, people).

This then minimises possible conflict and enables the individual, and team, to settle in and become more productive much quicker. Also, if people have a full understanding of what drives themselves and their colleagues it legitimises feedback at this level, while providing a transparency that’s a perfect basis for solving issues and complex challenges.

Team dynamics are also seriously enhanced by having fun. People spend around 100,000 hours at work during their lives, so it stands to reason that they should be enjoying those hours. You don’t want to turn it into a comedy club though, so balance is key – ‘work hard, play hard’.

Here are 30 of our suggestions for enhancing fun at work that we’ve experienced or seen in action:

1. Have lunch together
2. Tell stories (helps new people feel part of the success story)
3. Use humour to get the point across
4. Manage time so there’s less stress and more time for fun
5. Share books and discuss them
6. Learn a language – maybe a multi-lingual member of the team could teach the basics of their language?
7. Learn to dance together
8. Sweepstakes for major sporting events such as the World Cup or Olympics
9. Introduce  fun warm-up exercises for team meetings
10. Get everyone to email round their top five achievements at the end of each week and introduce a fun element as the ‘PS’
11. Avoid taking stuff too seriously
12. Offer a reward and recognition programme which acknowledges ‘above and beyond’ service or work
13. Introduce a fun budget for treats or activities – which is managed by the team, not the manager
14. Have a company or team trip which gives lasting memories and becomes part of the organisation ‘story book’
15. Make a TV screen available for major events and sporting fixtures – this stops people taking authorised (and unauthorised) absence to watch and is a bonding exercise which, in our view, is worth a couple of hours’ down time
16. Talk about top five films, songs etc…
17. Brighten up the environment
18. Take breaks – helps revitalise and refresh making you more productive in the long run
19. Put up an employee photo board or a map with pins for their places of origin
20. Organise birthday celebrations
 Present awards, spoof awards at Christmas
22. Provide food at meetings – but keep it healthy 23. Organise social events e.g. summer picnic
24. Arrange after-work events such as bowling, ice skating or theatre trips
25. After work drinks (in moderation) and nibbles on a Friday
26. Share around invitations to networking events and awards dinners
27. Train for a charity race / event together
28. Get outside – take a 10 – 15 minute walk with the team, even having a ‘walk and talk’ meeting
29. Have a ‘glass half-full’ attitude at all times – positivity makes solving issues much more fun
30. Start a competition with a small, inexpensive prize. Guessing total number of hits on the website, or opens of a marketing campaign.

Jane Sunley is CEO of talent management specialists, learnpurple , and author of people bible, Purple your People – the secrets to inspired, happy, more profitable people which can be purchased onlineThis article is based upon the chapter ‘Team dynamics and having fun’.

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