A new report from Bright HR and Professor Sir Cary Cooper on businesses wishing to boost motivation and productivity and reducing absenteeism, tell us to consider more play time and less work time in our stuffy workplaces. He wants office fun. The report points out that young employees that have fun in the workplace, from belly laughs and birthday celebrations to Xboxes and massages, take less sick leave, work harder and are more productive; but not, it seems us fuddy-duddy oldies.
The It Pays to Play study revealed some 79 per cent of school leavers and graduates believe fun at work is important (no s*** Sherlock!), with 44 per cent of this group believing it encourages harder work. Although believing does not necessarily mean “resulting in” more effort, in my mind. And compares this with the 56 per cent of 55 to 60-year-old saying office fun was important to them too, but only a mere 14 per cent believed it would make them more productive.
The report then compares these results with the 56 per cent of 55 to 60-year-olds, saying office fun was important to them too, but only a mere 14 per cent believed it would make them more productive. I guess I’m old…
Other Fun Facts Discovered
- Fun positively affected how many days people took off sick and found that 62 per cent of employees with no sick days in the last three months have had fun at work
- 58% of “no fun” workers had been off sick for 11 or more days, compared to 42 per cent of those who had.
What exactly is Fun at Work?
Whilst not exactly giving a definition of office fun, there are some examples of fun at work and includes:
- Lottery syndicates
- Charity Fundraising
- Fancy dress days
- Board games
- Knitting clubs.
The It Pays to Play report also confirmed that having fun at work is good for your health and wellbeing with those having fun reporting a greater psychological wellbeing in the last three months than those who didn’t.
The Top Five Fun Activities
- Dress down Friday (25%)
- Office parties/nights out (21%)
- A pool table (19%)
- An office pet (18%)
- Wellbeing massage days (17%)
Fun Snoozing at Work
My biggest laugh at the academics was at the one who suggested an afternoon nap for everyone, to increase productivity and creativity. The snooze in itself is difficult, I suggest, but having to offer quiet and maybe a sleep pod – will be fraught with perceived health and safety dangers. I cannot believe the Telegraph puts this in the science news section (click here to read full report)
Fun Without an Office
A more realistic report last year by Price Waterhouse and Cooper (PWC) also looked at office life by surveying 10,000 workers and 500 HR professionals globally. They found the traditional 9 – 5 office life is on its way out ‘The future of work: A journey to 2022’. This research commented only 14% of UK workers want to work in a traditional office environment in the future. Whereas one in five people say they want to work in a ‘virtual’ place where they can log on from any site or use collaborative work spaces. Organisations need to prepare themselves for this shift. The research found that a quarter of UK workers believe that traditional employment won’t be around in the future anyway.
Instead, people believe that they will have their own brands and sell their skills to those who need them. They will be working for themselves, where they choose. In my opinion that would be the definition of real fun which, I believe, both young and old could relate to.
The PWC report also reveals that many HR professionals are preparing for this shift towards more portfolio careers, predicting at least 20% of their workforce will be made up of contractors or temporary workers by 2022. I wonder how the office fun element will develop in this group of workers? Or if they will demand afternoon snoozes?
Office Fun Truth
While looking at office fun may be a worthwhile study for those in office environments, I struggle to see how those in manufacturing, construction and many SME’s can even hope to have an office pet or a pool table. We also have the UK’s biggest employer, NHS and shift workers who, on the whole would not be able to take part in the top 5 activities – so it makes me wonder about the value of these types of academic reports. It just seems to be a red herring and way off target from a health and wellbeing perspective for most UK workers.
People’s growing lack of interest in working in an office reflects the growing desire among many workers not to have more office fun, but to have more flexibility and varied challenges by working freelance or as a contractor for a number of organisations.
Office fun may be a factor but a minor one which only academics (working in offices) are really interested in.