Why does having fun in business matter?

Business is serious stuff – there are customers to satisfy, bills to pay and people’s livelihoods are at stake. You might think that the best way to maximise productivity is for you and your team to work harder, or for longer.

In fact, we think that the opposite is true.

Human beings are social creatures. Having a little fun helps us to control our emotions, bond as a team, and be better able to deal with stresses and challenges that come our way.

Studies have shown that when fun is a factor in the workplace, this leads to:

  • Increased motivation
  • More productivity
  • Better job satisfaction
  • Less stress
  • Improved performance.

Highly engaged employees are more likely to act on their own initiative in the interests of the company, and they are less likely to leave.

Glassdoor are specialists in helping companies to recruit talent, and in this Harvard Business Review Article they say that

“One of the most striking results we’ve found is that, across all income levels, the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay. It is the culture and values of the organisation, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company.”

What about your customers?

A great company culture leads to great customer service, and great customer service turns your customers into adoring fans.

When your customers are adoring fans, they tell other people about you.  Customers who share your values will be drawn to your business.

Your employees are critical in this relationship – if they don’t enjoy working for you, this will come across to your customers. Fun really is the gift that keeps on giving.

As Richard Branson says:

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.

So how do we have more fun in business?

Before you rush off and book that comedian for the office party, or that adrenaline-filled team-building exercise, there are some basics to cover first.

1. Have a vision that inspires you and your team

If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect others to follow you?  As the business leader, your vision is what will keep you focused on a day-to-day basis, it keeps you going when times are tough.  If you share that vision with your team, they will be inspired too.  They will take the initiative and make decisions that take your business in the right direction.

Make your vision bright, make it bold, shout it from the rooftops, stick it on your wall!

Above all, every day, every decision you make, ask yourself

“How is what I am about to do taking me towards my goals?”

2. Do what you love

The great thing about being a business leader is that you get to do what you love every day.  If your business doesn’t inspire you, take it in a different direction – if you’re not passionate about your business, it won’t be any fun working in it.

If you are a business owner then you can choose what you do yourself.

There’s a word of caution here.  By all means structure your business so that you get to do the things you love every day, but make sure that you don’t get so caught up in the “doing” of the business that it depends on you.  This is the most common problem which holds business owners back, and constrains the growth of their business. It is also true of leaders who have shareholders.

3. Delegate (or Outsource) what you don’t

You will add the most value to your business doing the things you really want to do, the things that make your business different, and that require your special combination of skills and experience.

You need the time to think about and plan the future direction of your business.

The everyday repeatable tasks can be done by someone else.  If there is not enough work to justify taking on a member of staff, find a trusted Virtual Assistant agency that shares your values, and outsource the work.  The cost will be more than outweighed by freeing up your time for the high value tasks that only you can do.

4. Celebrate your wins

Whether you are a sole trader, a multi-national or run a business somewhere in-between, then celebrate reaching the milestones along your journey.

Do it consistently, even when times are tough.

Your team needs, and deserves, constant recognition for a job well done.

Research by Harvard Business School led to the discovery of the Progress Principle:

The more frequently people experience a sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.

Celebrations don’t have to be lavish – it could be as simple as bringing in a box of doughnuts to share in the office – just as long as you are consistent in how you apply it.

If you want to celebrate a really big win, remember that not everybody in your team will want to celebrate in the same way.  Your all-night, champagne-fuelled, disco party could be your introverted colleague’s worst nightmare.

Get to know your team, ask them to decide how they would like to celebrate.

5. Be in charge of how you spend your time

This is a whole subject in itself – fundamentally, you need to be working on the things that are really going to take your business forward, and you want your team to be doing the same. Put your best people on the tasks that generate most value.

Control interruptions, decide how you want to spend your time, and create your to do list from you goals, and not your email inbox. There will never be enough time to do everything, and once today is wasted, you can never get it back.

There are lots of models of how to manage your time effectively, and this is one of the most important things that you can help your workforce understand.

We recommend that you start with Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

6. Find a great support network or a coach

Being a business leader can be lonely – you need someone who will support you when times are tough, challenge your assumptions, call you out for your own nonsense, and hold you to account.

Mastermind support networks are great, but only as good as the people in your network, and you have to invest a significant amount of time in supporting their businesses as well as your own.

A great business coach will tailor their programme to your needs, and 100% of the time you spend with them will be adding value to your business.

You may want more than one mentor – sometimes it’s a good idea to get specialist advice from someone in your industry, or someone who specialises in a particular skill that you lack.  What ever you do, make sure that your adviser has

  • Earned the right to advise
  • A burning desire to help
  • The ability to handle relationships and to advise people.

Above all, you need someone that shares your values, and that you can develop a great rapport with. If your role is big enough then a Chief of Staff can act as a force multiplier.

7. Get out of the office

Did you know that a study of Londoners found that those who lived near trees had overall better mental health than those who didn’t?

The benefits of being outside in nature are more than just the physical benefits of taking exercise.

Walking in nature has been found to lower stress, reduce depression, lower blood pressure, improve concentration and short term memory.  It improves overall wellbeing and happiness.

Imagine what that does for your team if you do it together!

Even with the current coronavirus restrictions, you can still find a way to meet your team outdoors and do something together.  Whether that is a gentle walk, a strenuous hike up the nearest mountain, or shooting hoops in the local park – whatever works for you.

8. Find ways of giving back to your community

Beyond just generally being a good thing to do, giving can also be good for you. There have been a number of studies that suggest generosity and giving back could positively impact an individual’s health both mentally and physically.  It has even been shown to help you live longer and reduce your risk of cognitive decline in older age.

Giving back as a team is another way to build your team code and have fun along the way:

  • Volunteer your business’ services or products to help a charity
  • Find a fun way of raising funds for your chosen charity
  • Teach your skills to disadvantaged people
  • Or inspire the next generation to follow in your footsteps.

What next?

Having fun in your business increases motivation, helps you to provide great customer service, and attract and retain talented employees; ultimately it will increase your profits.