Having fun at work has the ability to increase skill levels, improve employee resiliency, and encourage optimism, which in turn leads to better attention on tasks according to a study of 206 managers published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior. The surveys had managers rate fun activities, their own bosses’ support for fun, their attitude, and informal learning at their restaurants.
Michael Tews, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor at Penn State University, noted that employees in fun work environments are more willing to try new things and not stress about mistakes they may make. “It’s easier to make the connection between fun and retention, or fun and performance to the extent that it leads to creativity, but fun and learning doesn’t seem connected at the face of it,” Tews said. “The gist of this argument, though, is that when you have a workplace that is more fun, it creates a safe environment for learning to occur.”
“[Fun at work] creates this group cohesion,” Tews said. “So, when there’s fun, then the co-workers may be able to get to know each other, have better connections, and be more apt to help each other.”
As with any management tactics, there are pros and cons. While fun has many benefits, the authors caution that when taken too far it may affect productivity and it certainly isn’t a cure all for workplace performance.
Think of your own work history. What experiences do you remember most? Which former coworkers are still in your life? Given the sheer amount of time spent working wouldn’t you rather be in this type of environment?