4 Ways to Make Work Fun (and Productive) with Technology
There’s an old saying: Don’t mix business with pleasure.
Of course, the operative term in the statement above is old.
Today, ranking high among things employees put a premium on is the ability to have fun at work. In a BrightHR study called It Pays to Play, 79% of young employees between 16 and 24 years old said that having fun at work is moderately important to very important, while older members of the workforce (55-60) share the same sentiment.
It comes as no surprise that “cool” workplace features frequently go viral, such as this hot air balloon inspired corner at Google’s campus:
Turns out, there are serious benefits when employees have fun at work:
- Businesses with happy employees outperform their competitors by 20%
- Happy employees are 12% more productive
- Sales teams who have fun at work get 37% more sales
Luckily, you don’t have to call an architect or a designer to redo your entire office to achieve this. There’s an easier and equally effective way to transform your office so it becomes a place where work and fun are one and the same:
Since the industrial age, technology has been changing how businesses conduct their day-to-day operations. If technology can empower employees to manage their day-to-day jobs better, improve collaboration, and automate tasks, why not use it to make your workplace more fun?
Here are 4 ways you can use technology to enable your employees to play as hard as they work:
1. Use Messaging Apps to Create Virtual Water Coolers
The office water cooler is where a lot of downtime conversations among employees take place. These water cooler moments are more than just small talk, however. A study published by Psychology Today concluded that encouraging these conversations among employees is beneficial as it increases “shared tacit knowledge, shared attitudes and work habits, and social support.”
But why should these conversations have to happen around an actual water cooler or any physical space in your office for that matter? This is especially true if you have team members who are working remotely full-time.
These water cooler moments can be created at a much bigger scale using messaging apps. For example, more businesses are now using the messaging platform Slack where you can create several channels, each with a specific topic or purpose. One channel can be dedicated to encouraging “water cooler chats”.
Another channel can be created solely for new employee introductions.
Of course, you can and should set the decorum on how people should converse at these virtual water coolers, but rules should be as loose as possible. These channels should feel like safe spaces where employees can share photos of their fur babies, updates about their loved ones, recent movies they’ve seen, or books they’ve read, etc.
2. Use Recognition and Rewards Apps
Typically, employee incentives are given after a performance review in specific time intervals: monthly, quarterly, and yearly. Incentive programs also usually follow a top-down approach wherein managers and business owners dole out rewards to the best performing members of their teams.
Technology is swiftly changing how this is done.
Recognition and rewards apps allow reward points to be given instantaneously to employees for “good deeds”—whether it’s for great performance tied to the core aspects of their job description, or being an exceptional employee in other ways. Employees can also give reward points to one another so it’s not just a top-down approach. Jane can give points to Joe for helping her figure out how the photocopying machine works. Max can give points to Maxene for covering her shift when she was off sick.
Accumulated points can be exchanged for material, monetary, and other incentives such as gift cards, bonuses added to their paycheck, or additional vacation days.
3. Encourage Productivity with Gamification
Ensuring employees hit performance targets the old-school way is losing its effectiveness very quickly in the modern workplace. Your employees already know the importance of meeting their performance metrics, so there’s no use bombarding them with constant memos. However, as a good manager or business owner, you must instil the importance of meeting these performance goals in your team members.
One way to encourage productivity without being the nagging boss that everyone hates is with gamification. Gamification is the process of making work activities more enjoyable by making them feel more entertaining.
What would normally be a painstaking process of meeting productivity goals can turn into a more fun experience by integrating day-to-day productivity tools. For example, your gamification technology can be linked to your office time tracking software. Employees can earn badges by reaching certain project milestones and get rewarded for their accomplishments.
4. Use Automation to Cut Down on Boring Tasks
Monotonous manual work can significantly decrease employee productivity not to mention how unfun and demoralizing these tasks can be.
Automation is arguably one of the easiest and most basic ways technology can make work more fun for your employees. You have to start somewhere to achieve a more fun work environment, and a good place to start is with automating as many administrative tasks as possible. Your initial list could include automating your HR processes such as new employee onboarding, training, time tracking, benefits enrollment/availment, PTO requests, performance appraisals, and employee feedback collection, just to name a few.
Where Work and Fun Are One
Most employees spend a third of their day at work. There’s nothing wrong with having fun while hard at work. Truth be told, it should be the new gold standard in workplace engagement: A norm for most employees rather than a privilege enjoyed by a lucky few.
If you’re looking into beefing up your company’s technology capabilities, make sure to look at how you can leverage technology to up the fun in your office. Remember, employees who have fun are employees who deliver results.
Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 9,000 companies all around the world track time. Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many peoples lives are touched and changed for the better. When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better. You can find Dean on LinkedIn.