Small Business
Business INSIGHTS e-News for Manufacturers
The Fun Workplace

Fun doesn't always mean frivolous. These workplaces have learned that happy employees are more productive and engaged.

While you want employees to take their jobs seriously, you also want them to feel good. How can you put the fun back into work?

Hire fun people. Of the online retailer Zappos 10 Core Values, one is "Create fun and a little weirdness." Even operations management jobs require "a willingness to ... act silly at times, and encourage a fun working environment."

Promote passion. At sports-equipment manufacturer Burton Snowboards in Burlington, VT, employees are known to "snag freshies" before coming in to work during the winter. They enjoy "ride days," flexible schedules, and the opportunity to borrow new products. Employee benefits include discounts on snowboards, free lift tickets and snowboarding lessons.

Make life easier. At Clif Bar, makers of nutrition bars and other food products, personal trainers and fitness centers are on site, and so are services such as haircuts, car washes and organic produce delivery. Both dogs and babies are welcome in the office. Workweeks are flexible, and employees can even arrange for sabbaticals.

Find a reason to celebrate. On Pi Day (3-14), Clif Bar employees held a silent auction of homemade pies to support the local high school's math department.

Because Pi Day coincided with the Pittcon lab equipment trade show, some employees at Analtech made a tongue-in-cheek video of their Pi Day preparation. The video featured "pi poetry" being read aloud, a pi fact trivia contest, and swag like pi-shaped metal pizza cutters and pi clocks.

Instill pride in work and enjoy people. Employees at VIBCO, which manufactures industrial vibrating equipment, call themselves the "Vibration Nation" and are known for their plant's impressive productivity. To honor fellow employees, they built "The Chair," and decorated it with anything they thought symbolized excellence. They regularly honor fellow employees for accomplishments, large or small. As the employee sits in the chair, the whole company comes together to pay homage. (And it's not unknown for work to pause for an impromptu conga line or a singing gorilla.)

While some managers worry about wasted time and goofing off, fun in a culture of respect and engagement can really add to productivity.


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