Fast-paced, dynamic, result-oriented, exhausting, pushing, demanding, energy-consuming, non-balanced.
These all are the characteristics of the modern workplace. According to Anne Lakusta (author of the book “Pass the pig”), our workplace culture has become so unrealistic and insists that we often do not know our next step to achieve results and stay positive. The workplace is where we spend almost one-third of our conscious life. As that norm occurs, we need to make that work more positive, to ensure that we and others will stay there, work there and achieve results there. The other option we have is to switch jobs often and hope for the next best place where we can work until one day we realize that the time has come to move to the next one further.
By some many programs implemented, experts on well-being, employer brand, etc., many companies continue to struggle to find the right path to keep their employees for a long time and ensure great results with them.
And these company leaders blame everyone for their inability to sustain a culture of fun and success.
While consultancy services try to compensate for that inability, many employers and their leadership teams are far from achieving that balance between demand and fun to ensure better results and more happy employees.
While the last year was marked with a pandemic, companies struggling to achieve results and enormous pressure above employees need more than ever to rethink the strategy of making people happy and the workplace fun to keep these same people engaged and loyal to us.
In my modest experience of 15+ years in the profession, I have made several mistakes trying to structure a fun culture. When analyzed my experience, I have made it to the point where I can move forward and build a thriving and fun-filled culture at work. Here are my four simple steps:
Happiness at the role
Nearly 55% of the people are not happy in their roles (according to a survey published by the Economist back in 2020). The roles have heavy duties, are not flexible, and do not give enough learning and growth opportunities. As a result of that, people switch companies, and while they move, the trend shows that the area of expertise or desired role stays the same (in 78% of the cases), but the thing that changes is the company and the cultural norm. To make everyone happy in their role, the leader will need to step back and give people the freedom to do things the way they see them. The characteristics list of the role happiness includes freedom, flexibility, tolerance toward mistakes, and support of the individual path and decisions.
Happiness in the environment
There is a say that “People do not leave companies, but managers and leaders.” In my experience, I have transformed that say to “People leave cultures.” We often call a toxic environment and blame for it our line manager or first-level leader is the responsibility of everyone in the company. We need to focus on joining people for every type of company, suitable with the company-specific norms. When doing that successfully the leader will never have to deal with the term toxic. The toxicity of the culture is generated by the differences in the people’s understandings at the workplace. NO, the leader does not have to hire only one profile people that perfectly match the established cultural model. The leader must focus on joining the team to bring diversity without breaking the model already shown by the current team. The flexibility of the mindset and readiness to change are often overlooked, and leaders hire their perfect match for the next form model they want to see in the team and environment. This action stresses too much the environment and hurts relationships and inter-team and inter-employee interaction. Bringing happiness to the leader’s environment means getting diversity without stretching too much the company’s model. The change must come because of the team’s growth and not as a demand from the leader.
Opportunities for growth
While conducting exit interviews, I have often heard about leaving “No opportunities for growth.” And even more often, the sentence was not connected with vertical growth. Many leaders make mistakes to let people learn, develop and grow by themselves. Left on their own, employees often struggle with what to know and what will be used in the work environment. The fun environment allows people to grow in their unique way, being supported by the leader. The fun comes from different opportunities people can choose from to build a unique way for development and growth, suitable with their needs, capabilities, and understandings. The leader cannot offer everything that exists at once, but focusing on flexibility in learning and open dialogue on what will or will not work for a particular person can easily create the proper setup for everyone in the team.
Clear rules and norms
As this one looks like the previous three, I have understood the hard way how lack of norms affects culture and engagement. Every company has a unique culture based on its vision and internal communication styles and behaviors. To allow someone to have fun and feel free, the leader needs to form borders. The leader ensures that there will be a balance between expectations and demonstrated behavior in the company and the team. There is no fun at work if the leader constantly has to deal with misunderstandings and behaviors, affecting work-stability and people’s internal balance. If there are no norms established, the freedom and fun at work can quickly turn to no ability to meet results and deadlines and generate pressure and conflicts between people.
Creating an environment of fun at work is crucial for ensuring better team results and internal satisfaction and engagement. There is a thin line between freedom and fun from one side and inconsistency, conflicts, pressure, and negatives from the other side. That is why creating fun means finding the balance and constantly investing time to sustain it for you, the team, and the whole company.