Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Employee Benefits –Time for some fun?

This month’s Employee Benefits Magazine asked three employers what festive rewards they were offering their employees this year.

I was particularly impressed with Head of Corporate responsibility for Asos.com, Louise McCabe’s answer. She went into some detail about how the company hosted a staff party, ran best decorated office competitions and even produced a larger than life Trojan Reindeer!

There is much discussion about health and wellbeing in the workplace and in a challenging economic environment this may slip down the benefits agenda. But what about some good old fashioned fun?

Fun doesn’t have to cost a lot. A good party or some activities such as charity fund raising or festive challenges can engender a great team spirit. Throughout my career, the jobs that I remember with most fondness are those where I had fun. Come to think of it – most of my career has been spent having fun! Having fun with colleagues who shared the same work/play ethic.

I am proud to have been involved with some corporate Christmas celebrations that have taken on legendary status. There have also been low key ‘jolly japes’ (as we say in the UK). The long running joke, the affectionate nicknames and the recall of shared anecdotes all contribute to a positive workplace atmosphere.

A study published in 2005 (Journal of Leadership and Organisational Studies) noted that there were no significant differences across the public, non-profit and private sectors in their attitudes towards fun which were directly related to trust in one’s supervisors and co-workers. If you joke with someone or feel at ease sufficiently to risk making a fool of yourself with your colleagues then you are likely to trust the workplace environment. My silver medal won with three colleagues as an ABBA tribute band in a company Christmas ‘X factor’ competition is testament to that fact!

A University of Florida Study demonstrated the value of taking time to socialise with colleagues to improve productivity and boost creativity and in their book, ‘The Levity Effect’, Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher reveal the power of fun in engaging a loyal workforce.

So think carefully if you are planning to curtail your corporate celebrations. A happy workforce is a productive workforce and we could all do with a bit of festive cheer after a tough year.

This posting is dedicated to Jean Reid who died today. A classy lady who gave her family and friends eight decades of fun.


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