Reduce Workplace Stress Through Fun Activities

RBLP Staff – The Building and Leading Resilient Teams Series

Reduce Workplace Stress Through Fun Activities

Allowing your team to have fun at work encourages camaraderie and builds social bonds, creating an environment conducive for collaboration. It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that everyone supports these stress-reducing, team-building activities.

When people have fun at work, they are more productive, more likely to bond with one another, and feel a greater sense of loyalty to their employer. But creating a work environment where people have permission to smile, laugh, and relax does not just happen. The team leader must take an active role in building the fun into work. Because fun at work is only fun if everyone agrees on the ground rules. 

Creating relaxing and fun activities for all to enjoy requires the leader to follow a few basic principles: the activities should be at work and during working hours; they should not involve alcohol, and they need to be inclusive of everyone on the team. Company softball or volleyball teams exclude non-athletes as well as those who do not want to devote non-work hours to a competitive sport. The occasional happy hour soiree is fine as long as it’s not required.  

But these types of “traditional” fun activities should not be part of your initiative to build fun into the workplace. 

The leader must understand what people enjoy doing and what type of events people like. Start by asking for ideas. You’ll have plenty to choose from! The process of choosing can be a fun activity in itself and sets the tone for the new workplace environment you’re seeking.  

Employees may be skeptical of your motives. Be sure to tell people this will be part of their work experience going forward so they know it isn’t a one-off designed to quickly boost morale. Then set the tone yourself.  

Don’t sequester yourself in your office. Get out there and take the time to listen, to laugh, to get to know your direct reports as they discuss possible activities. Once your team has settled on a list of fun activities, participate! After all, leaders need stress relief on the job as much, if not more, than everyone else. 

What sort of activities are we talking about?  

These will depend on the industry you’re in and the kind of work you do. First responders and healthcare professionals, who spend their working hours anticipating life-and-death situations, may need more “fun breaks” during their workweek than others. Even knowing they have permission to share stories and jokes over a cup of coffee, or argue about an office football pool, can provide great relief from such stress. 

The tech industry offers excellent at-work fun resources, with their ping-pong tables, corn hole courts, and elaborate espresso machines that everyone can take advantage of when they need a break. Weekly visits from a masseuse or onsite yoga classes are included in some companies’ stress-busting benefits.  

But you can broaden the scope to try new activities. How about a monthly potluck at lunchtime? Even the most reluctant staff “chef” can pick up the beverages. Or give people permission to do individual stress-busting at work. Do you knit? Take a half-hour out to work on that scarf for Uncle Ernie. Who knows, a staff knitting club might be the result! 

Creating fun activities during the workday is not a top-down process. Forced fun without the full support of your team will fall flat. The leader who orchestrates the activities through group discussions, and then follows through with a fun agenda, will find that the quality of the work improves as does the mood of the workforce.