If you’ve ever worked in a toxic workplace or for a high stress boss, you know that negativity and stress are contagious, and you know that they demotivate others and reduce productivity. The good news is that a positive outlook, humor and fun at work are contagious, too! There’s a business benefit in favor of cultivating fun, laughter, happiness and social interaction at work. One recent study of 2,000 employees, conducted by BrightHR, demonstrated that integrating fun into the workplace reduces absences, increases productivity and reduces stress.
It isn’t just up to management to create a pleasant workplace. We can all do our share. Just as you can identify those complainers and negativists you work with, can’t you also identify those people who are fun to work with and who brighten everyone’s days? Become one of those people this month (if you aren’t already.) Here are a dozen quick and easy ways to bring some sunshine into the office!
Food! Whether doughnuts, candy or carrot sticks and hummus, people congregate where the food is. And they usually talk and laugh. Nourishment is uplifting; treats make us feel special.
Flowers aren’t just for females. They bring a bit of nature inside and lift spirits, particularly if you present them to a colleague or place them in a common area. One caveat: while some flowers have wonderful scents, be aware of those who are allergicand, if necessary, bring flowers with no scent.
Instead of passing around that kitty video, try a team bulletin board. Post photos of everyone’s pets one month; have an ugliest postcard contest the next, then a “My favorite cartoon” of the month.
Pass around or post quotations or sayings that are good food for thought. Don’t roll your eyes; we aren’t talking shallow motivational quotes. Pieces that we relate to, learn from or find uplifting qualify.
Courtesy and cheer. Greet people cheerfully each morning. Compliment colleagues and praise them to others at every opportunity. Make it a practice to say “Thank you,” “Please,” and “Excuse me.”
Training or brain food. Schedule some time for people to learn regularly. Is there someone in your department (or another department) who can teach something useful? Will HR bring a speaker in for a seminar? Will your manager spring for a webinar everyone can watch or a relevant podcast? And there are always books on tape.
Create team traditions. A walk after lunch on Thursdays, a movie once a month, “decorate” someone’s office to welcome him or her back after they have been away. (Cobwebs on the desk and chair, for example.)
Volunteer or collect for charity. Helping others makes us feel good. If there is a Habitat for Humanity In your town, the team can volunteer a few days of work. Send volunteers to walk dogs at your local animal shelter every day for a week. We all have clothes in good condition that we don’t wear—have a cold weather or job interview clothing drive. Many food banks are in great need of donations in the summer.
An orderly environment. People work better, think better and feel calmer when their work environment is organized, clean and orderly. Every quarter, choose a day to have every person clean and organize their personal office space—and then another day when everyone works together to clean and organize common space.
Celebrate success. When the team reaches a goal or is in the midst of a huge project, arrange for an ice cream truck to stop by. Give out small trophies for individual achievements; have an award that is passed around for “Team Member of the Month.” Have each month’s winner nominate the next month’s.
Form activity groups. Get people together doing things they enjoy. This can be anything from a football pool to a book club to a yoga class.
Encourage laughter and smiles. These are certainly contagious—in a good way! Set a light tone in the office. It doesn’t mean you don’t take work seriously, but it doesn’t hurt to “whistle while you work.”