Fun has officially entered the realm of work. More and more businesses are harnessing the powers of fun at work to increase employee engagement, productivity, job satisfaction and much more.
In the first article of this series, we identified the many business benefits of creating fun at work. We also explored 9 simple ways to engage employees based on the first 3 Core Drives of the Octalysis Framework: Meaning, Accomplishment and Empowerment of Creativity.
Let’s dive into 15 more actionable tips to increase fun at work!
Core Drive 4: Ownership and Possession
Another driver of employee engagement is the feeling of ownership over one’s work and company. When we feel ownership over something, we will do our best to better it, multiply it, and protect it.
Here is how to help employees develop more ownership in the workplace:
- Let your employees provide a meaningful contribution. Give employees clear responsibilities over an array of tasks. When one can take a project from its debut to completion, they make it their own. This is applicable for daily tasks as well as overall implication in a company: give your employees opportunities to influence the development of their company. Listen to their ideas.
- Make employees commit and be accountable. Let employees write down their name next to the tasks they are responsible for. Encourage written or public commitments towards specific objectives.
- Help employees develop their skills. Your employees should have a clear idea of where their skills stand and how to improve them. Provide assessment tools and learning material as well as learning goals that match palpable capacities in their daily work.
Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness
Another way to increase fun at work is by encouraging positive and meaningful social interactions between colleagues.
Here are a few ideas of how to do it:
- Encourage appreciation and generosity among colleagues. 69% of employees say they’d work harder if they were better appreciated. It is essential to build a work environment in which colleagues are encouraged and incentivised to appreciate and help one another. Some workplaces do that by providing employees with “Kudos cards”: a physical token of appreciation to gift their colleagues. You could even provide employees with a monthly “Thank You Bonus”: an allowance to distribute to their colleagues as a sign of appreciation for their work.
- Create space for bonding. Relations between colleagues shouldn’t be all about work. Make sure to provide opportunities for your employees to bond with one another, be it through afterwork events or dedicated areas in the office. Don’t put the water cooler and coffee machine in a dark corner of a corridor. Create a warm and welcoming lounge area for employees to enjoy their off time together. You could even provide a few board games or consoles to help them break the ice.
- Have a mentorship programme. This makes onboarding way more comfortable and fun for new employees. It also creates more opportunities for bonding and altruism at work. Finally, it helps your experienced employees feel appreciated for their knowledge.
Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience
Employee engagement can also be increased by fostering Scarcity and Impatience. To be enjoyable, work should be challenging. Without challenge, we fall into apathy. People are naturally drawn to things that are hard to get.
Here are examples of how to increase fun at work through scarcity:
- Provide opportunities for challenge. Not everyone has the luck of having a challenging job. Make sure your employees have frequent opportunities to stretch their limits and test their skills: friendly competitions, challenging business cases, status for extraordinary accomplishments…
- Implement constraints. Provide your employees with conditions that help them focus on their task. Deadlines will help prevent procrastination; clear requirements will give a direction to a task and make it more challenging.
- Impose “torture breaks”. To be happy and productive, your employees need to know how to take time away from work sometimes. This can be really hard for the most go-getters! Make sure you encourage your employees to take frequent breaks, manage a healthy work-life balance, and take holidays every now and then. These breaks will let your employees spare their psychic energy and avoid burnouts.
Core Drive 7: Unpredictability and Curiosity
Creating fun at work also relies on making space for the novel and the unexpected. It is easy for employees to get caught up in the routine of the work day and lose excitement.
Here is how to foster unpredictability and curiosity in the workplace:
- Give your employees opportunities to discover new topics. Conferences and presentations are a great way for your employees to learn about new topics relevant to their work and exercise intellectual curiosity. Try to host such events on a regular basis or to encourage your employees to participate in conferences outside of your organisation.
- Every now and then, give your employees the opportunities to experience the work life of their colleagues in another service, in another shop, or on another project. This will increase empathy and understanding across your organisation and inspire employees to learn from the practices of others.
- Make a daily task more fun thanks to the “oracle effect”. Making predictions about an event can make it way more entertaining than it actually is, even when nothing is at stake. This is called the “Oracle effect”. In a call centre, employees could make predictions about the number of pun-friendly names they encounter during the work day.
Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance
The last powerful force that can drive employee engagement is the desire to avoid loss and undesirable events. Sometimes, the prospect of a reward is not sufficient to inspire action, but we would be willing to do anything to avoid a loss of similar value.
Here are examples of playful ways to implement Loss and Avoidance to increase fun at work:
- Put in place a streak system. Keep track of how many times your employees have performed a small accomplishment without interruptions (e.g. respecting their deadlines, getting a work piece approved…). Let employees try to break their personal record, or the overall record. You can even tie their streak to a sort of bonus. They will go the extra mile to protect their streak.
- Give your employees evanescent opportunities. On a regular basis, give them opportunities requiring immediate decisions: taking on a special assignment, participating in an event, or contributing to a project.
- Don’t let them take their success for granted. If your employees obtain unique status or benefits for their accomplishments, these should be subject to review. Your employees should have to keep their efforts up to maintain what they have obtained.
Take it to the next level with Octalysis Gamification
There are thousands of ways to create fun at work. The real challenge of employee engagement isn’t in coming up with ideas, but in creating a balanced experience. As mentioned earlier, it is essential to balance intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to make employees feel productive while having fun at work. It is also essential to balance what we call White Hat Core Drives (namely, Epic Meaning, Accomplishment and Empowerment of Creativity) that make employees feel good and in control but can be subject to procrastination, with Black Hat Core Drives (Scarcity, Unpredictability and Avoidance) that pace the work life of employees but can cause burnouts when overused. Achieving the perfect balance for fun at work can be tricky to the entrained.
At The Octalysis Group, we take fun at work to new highs. Our expertise in Behavioural Design and Octalysis Gamification helps our clients like Navo Orbico, Quandoo and Aperam engage their employees in the workplace and obtain the best results.
Do you want expert advice on creating fun at work?
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE consultation.