To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?

Katherine Graham

Did you know that Google gets 1,000,000 job applications a year?  Only 0.5% or 5,000 of those applicants are hired.  What makes Google such a draw to potential hires?  Is it the fact that its employees have creative license to think outside the box?  The salary and benefits?  Or could it be the perks?  What do you think of these?

Google employees can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at any of the company’s 11 gourmet restaurants. If you gain what’s called the Google 15, hit the gym. Training is free. So are the massages. There’s volleyball, swimming, rock climbing, game rooms and scooters. And how’s this for a perk? Google will kick in $5,000 for the purchase of a hybrid car. All this and every day is take your dog to work day.

It’s easy to see why job seekers would want to join the 0.5% of those who get accepted into Google.  However, what are the other 99.5% to do?  Or how can a company attract quality talent such as the Google applicants?  The key here is that Google from the onset understood that fun and progressiveness are what brings about productivity and profits to make the company sustainable, as well as have a major impact on the global economy.  To be fun and progressive doesn’t have to cost the company a lot of money.  Actually, it’s quite the opposite – it’s more about non-monetary investments in employee creativity, engagement and the need to matter.

Three fun ways to inject a healthy dose of fun and progressiveness are:

  • Integrate creative play into the work environment.  A study conducted last year in Japan showed that stress hormone levels decreased for employees when their employers instituted creative play into their human capital development practices.  The practices can be things such as:
  • bring-to-work potluck lunches
  • breakrooms with games
  • drawing contests
  • organized happy hours
  • company sports teams
  • lunch hour stand-up comedy competitions
  • knitting group lunch meetups

The bottomline is that it really doesn’t have to cost big dollars to create corporate play programs.  And, these programs don’t always have to be run by corporate HR departments.  Sometimes all is takes is an employee who is willing to champion the initiative and be allowed to do so while on the job.  If you’re an employer who is concerned about this task detracting from the employee doing her regular job, a Littleton, Colorado-based energy company found that its unwanted turnover decreased from 25 to 5 percent within a year after it instituted a “play policy”.

  • Implement a formal employee volunteerism program.  All of us want to feel like our life matters.  Most fear that upon their death bed, they’ll have major regrets for things they never accomplished.  Therefore, as an employer to retain and keep your employees motivated, the easiest thing to do is to allow for them to serve their community.  IBM reportedly has seen a 3:1 ROI on its corporate citizenship initiative, i.e. $3 on every dollar the company has spent.  As a company, you can either select a cause or multiple causes that are in alignment with your corporate mission and values or you can offer the employee to select a cause and afford him the opportunity to take time away from his job to serve as a volunteer.  If you’re an employee who would like to see a formal program adopted at your company, share with your employer what value IBM and other companies have derived from their programs.  Share facts and figures by making a compelling business case and enlist other supporters within.
  • Bring nature into the workplace as an employee wellness initiativeDon’t you dread being cooped up in your cube or office for 8+ hours every day?  It causes you to feel drained, lethargic and unfocused.  According to a psychologist at Monmouth University, your attention span throughout the day is cyclical, and the brain tunes out after about 90 minutes.  You then need downtime to recycle brain chemicals needed to maintain focus and store information.  There isn’t a better way to improve brain health than bringing nature into the office.  Australian researchers found that study subjects who put a single plant into their workspace felt 40% less angry, depressed, anxious and tired.  As an employer, let your employees know that you encourage plants in the workplace.  You might even want to have a cube-decorating competition to stimulate the cube landscape “artistry”.

I’d love to hear from you how you are adding fun and progressiveness into your own workplace.  What suggestions can you add?  Nothing is too outlandish!  Also, if you like what you read, please share it with friends by clicking one of the cute buttons above!