Fun activities should be required in the work place. Statistics have shown that employees who are involved in the company or by the company setting aside a day to show employees they are appreciated, stress levels are reduced, employees are happier and better able to provide the degree of customer service consumers come to expect. There are many types of “fun days” that a company can explore using. These “fun days” can include friendly competition between employees. Prizes could include a vacation for the employee who wins the competition.
One of the main benefits that occur when creating fun activities for employees is that it can improve and build teamwork for any company, especially larger companies where employees may not see or communicate with each other on a daily basis. When I was in the Marine Corps, every six months we had a mandatory fun day. The families of all Marines were invited to come. The officers and high ranking staff members would grill hamburgers and hot dogs for the Marines and their families. It is a tradition that the lowest ranking Marine eats first. It was easy to notice how the cohesion within our unit or battalion increased when these days occurred.
Everyone was happy enjoying their day off. It allowed everyone to be able to spend time with their families. While stationed in Iraq, through all the haze and fog of war, there were days set aside for the unit to relax, as much as you could be in a warzone. Our platoon commander would get steaks from the chow hall. He will grill them for everyone in the unit. All of us were able to spend a few hours having a good time playing a sport, talking, or just being able to relax. These days helped the unit perform our duties better. We were able to “reset” our minds and focus more clearly on the task of security detail.
“Sometimes I can’t believe I have been here for seven months already,” admits one Razer employee. “I guess you don’t feel the time passing when you are having so much fun.” (McShane, Von Glinow, p. 102) This is an example of how employees who work for companies who promote fun activities may feel about their employers. Employees who are happy and feel satisfied with their jobs are more likely to have increased, efficient productivity than those who are dissatisfied with their employers. When employees carry positive emotions into the workplace, the culture and aura of the work environment is happy and productive.
Wegman’s Food Market in New York has an interesting motto: Employees first, customers second. This is different than most companies in the world. Companies tend to believe that “the customer is always right.” However, in most cases, they are not. Wegman’s Food Market was named one of the top companies in the United States to work for. They believe that the happier the work environment is the happier and more satisfied the employee is with their position. This in turn creates happier, returning customers and increased revenue.
Work overload and stress are two factors that can be reduced by companies incorporating fun days into their work culture. Many companies today have employees who are working 50-80 hours per week, do not disconnect from the job when they leave the office and have not taken a real vacation in recent years. Stress overload can cause employees to quit the company abruptly as was the case with JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater. When he was interviewed by police, he stated that he was overloaded with stress.
The day he quit, he said he was upset because he had been hit in the head with a suitcase which caused a cut to his forehead, being cursed at by a passenger, as well as his mother’s illness. Managers, who are not on the front lines of service, can be unaware of the daily stressors employees encounter. If management was more aware of the stressors encountered, more could be done to alleviate the employees feeling as overwhelmed as Slater felt the day he quit the job he loved for 20+ years.
I currently work for Broward College (BC). Most of the upper management staff is located on our downtown campus not on campuses frequented by students. They are not exposed to the stressors that come with seeing students 5 days a week, 7.5 hours a day. Students come in upset, not necessarily with you, but with their financial situation or even a personal situation, and take it out on you. You have to always maintain a professional demeanour when dealing with them to avoid any confrontations. It is easy for a manager who sits in their office all day to make suggestions on how they think things can be done better but those suggestions are usually void. Working in the college environment, if you do not see the stresses, you cannot make suggestions on how to make a campus or department run more smoothly.
BC does offer professional development days where we can attend workshops. Stress relief and time management workshops are included. These do not alleviate the stressors we face on a daily basis or allow us to be able to communicate our ideas for improvement to upper management. BC should consider implementing a committee consisting of staff members from each campus to allow them to discuss issues that arise and give suggestions on how to improve those issues. One problem with working for BC is that most of the front line staff does not feel as though they are appreciated. Upper management does not reward employees for a job well done. Many employees feel as though their managers do not have their back when it comes to problems with students.
Fun activities should be mandatory in the work place. They could help alleviate stress, and increase morale among employees. Fun activities could be anything from a friendly competition to a well-earned vacation. No matter the work load companies should at least dedicate one day to the employees. This will demonstrate how important and valuable they are to the company. Low turnover rates mean happy employees. This in turn means more productivity and revenue.
McShane, S. & Von Glinow, M. (2013) Organizational Behavior (6th edition). McGraw-Hill Companies.
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