Having Fun At Work Doesn’t Happen By Accident

Having fun at work boosts morale, productivity and creativity, while reducing burnout and turnover. But it doesn’t happen by accident.


Here’s how three companies promote fun at work:


Lands’ End recruits about 2,600 employees a year for its catalog business in Dodgeville, Wis. – a small town in a state with low unemployment. What’s the draw? To start, department heads listen to employees’ ideas for activities. Managers sometimes serve their staff members cookies and other treats. And the Lands’ End Choir provides a musical outlet for about 70 employees.

One result: Fortune magazine ranked Lands’ End among the 100 best places to work.

Fun events: On “Inside-Out Day,” warehouse workers wear clothes-what else-inside out. At a “Harvest Ball,” customer service reps wear tuxedos and old bridesmaid dresses. And in the “Cruise Room,” employees can enjoy punch and calypso music during breaks.


Schwartz Communications, Waltham, Mass., has 160 employees and yearly turnover of about 12% – one-third its industry’s average. Fun factors: an on-site swimming pool, Ping-Pong, dart boards, video games, a freezer full of ice cream and parties at unusual sites, including the Boston Aquarium.


Gymboree Corp., Burlingame, Calif., offers “snack time” and “recess” for its employees. The children’s product manufacturer gives its 300 employees small perks that add up, such as 15 minutes on Wednesday afternoons for snacks paid for by in-house sample clothing sales. They also endorse a half-hour break on Thursdays to walk around the lagoon, play Frisbee, hopscotch or Hula-Hoop-or simply to lounge.

Fun dividends: While Gymboree employees “play,” they often talk about work. Ken Myers, senior vice president of human resources, says it pays off. “We’re a company of creativity, and creative ideas don’t always come sitting in an office.” Also, Myers stresses intangible benefits, such as team building and developing a better understanding of the organization’s clients-children.


Written for us by our associate Gary Sorrell, Sorrell Associates, LLC.

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