Fun at Work

Fun at Work - Productivity Gain or Productivity Drain?

Frank Hattann

6/22/20233 min read

a man sitting at a desk in an office
a man sitting at a desk in an office


Creating a fun work environment has always been a crucial aspect of organizational culture for me. However, it's important to clarify that my definition of fun isn’t hanging out on the water cooler all day cracking jokes, nor is it playing games.

Fun, in my view, entails fostering an atmosphere where everyone feels a sense of belonging and welcome. You walk in with a smile because you know you there by choice. It is still work and not every day we will walk out with a smile. But in a great place of work which is fun, you’ll find it easy to pick yourself up after a bad day and look forward to walking back in the next.

Work isn't always a walk in the park, a great workplace that embraces fun will not have you threat Monday morning.

The Power of Enjoyment

When friends or family ask about our jobs, they are typically interested in whether we find joy in our work, rather than the technical aspects. The size or significance of our roles often takes a backseat to our overall job satisfaction.

By creating a fun work environment, we not only cultivate a healthy social atmosphere that people crave, but we also reduce staff turnover.

In such an environment, colleagues support one another, even in competitive scenarios such as sales, striving to be the best while uplifting those around them. You still want to be first or best amongst your peers, but you want to achieve it the right way. Competing honestly and openly makes the win so much more gratifying. When your peers are truly celebrating you, while thinking how to best you next time, you know you have a fun environment.

Building a Fun Work Environment

To establish a fun work environment, here are some strategies I suggest:

  1. Clarify and Communicate Purpose

    Clearly state the purpose and mission of the organization or team. Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" is an effective approach for communicating this purpose. In my case, the purpose is not just for the team or as a productivity gimmick but also my personal preference to work in a fun environment, regardless of how stressful the job occasional can get.

  2. Define Observable Behaviours

    Identify and communicate the specific behaviours expected in the workplace. For instance, during my time at Microsoft, one observable behaviour was "walking in with a smile every morning." While it may have seemed like a trivial concept at first, the teams eventually embraced it, resulting in noticeable positive changes. Witnessing team members calling me out for not smiling one day was a real win for me (the concept had taken hold).

  3. Frequent and Public Praise

    Encourage a culture of appreciation by providing frequent and public recognition. This recognition shouldn't be limited to leaders but should also include peer-to-peer acknowledgment. For example, during my tenure at LinkedIn, our Friday huddles included team members calling out each other for embodying the organization's culture and values. Initially, some found it uncomfortable, but over time, it became a norm, generating ample examples and volunteers eager to share positive experiences.

  4. Support and Motivate Your Team as Individuals

    Managers and aspiring leaders should prioritize being there for their teams. Actively listen to understand what motivates each team member. While financial incentives may drive some, others may find fulfilment in coaching or mentoring others, or in receiving recognition and prestige. Engage in competitions focused on positive behaviours, beyond the numbers but how they are being achieved within your cultural standards and defined values. Don’t ask the team for trust, give it to them. If somebody needs some flexibility, assume they have good reason and won’t abuse it until they proof otherwise.

  5. Inclusive Events

    While parties can be enjoyable, they should not be the sole indication of a fun work environment. Parties can inadvertently exclude or create pressure. When planning events, consider a day out or an evening together with diverse activities and inclusive options for food and drinks. By accommodating personal preferences, avoiding peer pressure and exclusion, you foster a sense of belonging among employees.


A fun work environment, as I define it, promotes productivity, engagement, and overall job satisfaction. It establishes a culture of appreciation, encourages healthy competition, and strengthens relationships among team members. By clarifying purpose, defining observable behaviours, providing frequent praise, supporting individual motivations, and organizing inclusive events, organizations can foster a vibrant and enjoyable workplace. Remember, fun at work is not just about having a good time; it is about creating an atmosphere where everyone feels valued, connected, and a sense of belonging.

For more tips how to make your work environment fun feel free to reach out.

Any feedback or alternative views are also highly welcome.