“Work Hard, Play Hard.” We’ve all heard this term countless times. Oftentimes, it’s plastered on core value statements and repeated by colleagues as a badge of honor, supposedly as motivation for balancing work and play.
There is no argument with working hard - it’s vital for any company to succeed. Without unwavering determination and an auspicious work ethic, your competition will out shadow you in a moment's notice.
But employees today aren’t interested in playing hard. They are interested in balance and work/life integration. The concept of play hard can have many connotations. By saying work hard, play hard, we are directly or indirectly communicating that all of our time must be at work or with work colleagues. Essentially, if we are working hard and then spending our free time playing hard with our colleagues, we are not allocating any time for ourselves to reset and recharge. On top of that, the notion of “play hard” also has many connections to partying and drug use/abuse which is not conducive to a balanced culture.
The term “work hard, play hard” is a major red flag when being stated as a part of a company’s values or mission statement.
“Play hard” glorifies a degenerate culture. Picture a group of suited bankers wearing loose ties, in a loud nightclub, spending a lot of money on bottle service, and making morally questionable decisions; then, showing up to work the next day hungover and reveling in party stories while “working.” These actions only work against the employees, owners and investors of the company.
“I have nothing against drinking and do my share. And there are plenty of TaskUs events where we serve alcohol. However, I do not want to promote constant partying as an important part of our company’s culture, whether intended or implied,” Jaspar Weir, President of TaskUs, said.
It creates social pressure to drink with your colleagues or be left out. Not to mention that being hungover and tired at work is unproductive. In general, getting wasted around your colleagues just isn’t a great idea.
It perpetuates the tech-bro stereotype that startups, and even well-established companies, desperately need to change. Companies fostering toxic work environments, especially poor treatment of women, and fraternity-like cultures of heavy drinking and partying play a role in this stereotype. Employees, amplified by media cycles, are screaming that this behavior will not be tolerated.
So, no more play?
No, we should all have fun!
Work Hard, Play Hard connotes that work itself is not fun, and all play happens outside of the office as a way of evening the scales between the doldrum of work and the excitement of what play can entail. We spend way too much of our waking adult lives in an office. Therefore, it’s in every company’s best interest to focus more on creating fun work environments that people enjoy, and ultimately promote employee engagement and better business results.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend nearly 40% of their day working - more than any other single activity in their day. Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick. Economists carried out several experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. In the laboratory, they found happiness made people around 12% more productive.
Employers must provide meaningful, quality interactions with employees where they can relate to one another on a personal level. This gives managers insight into why a normally productive teammate is falling behind due to underlying personal life stressors. It allows us to all be human together and enjoy time together at work.
Here are a few ideas for how to create a fun work environment:
- Celebrate Small Wins
An essential aspect of a fun workplace culture is where people feel good about themselves and their work. While appreciating major accomplishments is necessary to increase employee morale, celebrating the small wins can be just as effective.
An employee has always been helpful to his team members. When an employee stayed late to cover a sick colleague’s work. When someone always comes to work on time. Or keeps his workplace immaculately clean. The tool AIM Insights measures this metric and calls it organizational citizenship.
Such day-to-day acts should not go under the radar and be appreciated as such.
It will indeed impart some positive vibes, laughter, team bonding and establish an overall fun working environment.
2. Ask employees what they want
The best way to create a fun working environment is to ask your employees about what they want. There is usually a generational and positional gap seen between the manager and the team members.
Thus, what you may consider fun at work might not necessarily be so for the employees.
Therefore, consider it an excellent practice to ask or gather feedback from the team about what you should do to make the working environment more fun.
More often, you’ll find that they’ll be more than happy to help you since it benefits them as well. Also, it will provide an excellent bonding opportunity between the manager and the team members.
3. Team Building Fun Activities
Team building activities that involve some strategy, skills, and team members working together can be incredibly effective in creating a fun work environment.
Such fun activities provide a plethora of benefits, including:
● Aids the team members into honing their strategic skillset.
● Promotes team bonding through activities such as icebreaker questions.
● Helping combat work pressure and stress.
● Increase in creativity and confidence levels.
● Inspires better communication between team members.
● Such fun activities help to bring team members together and actually bond over something that all enjoy.
This creates a sense of camaraderie and that their colleagues can be friends. Perhaps, the most crucial benefit is that the learning and collaboration developed during such team-building fun games can help in the actual working environment.
Having fun without hard work does not promote good business. Ditching the “work hard, play hard” mantra and focusing more on creating a fun work environment doesn’t mean people are happy, but it is a step in the right direction to allowing employees a fun expression of their job, in a safe and responsible manner.