Pros and Cons of a Fun Workplace Culture
Organizational culture may be defined as a transformation process to encourage commitment by appealing to the desires of employees to go beyond their self-interests and contribute to the success of the organization. In recent years many organizations like Innocent and Google have made efforts to implement fun corporate cultures. According to Fleming (2005, p. 287), it is critical to establish a unique corporate culture where employees enjoy the company of each other and where there exists a strong association of professionalism, fun, and productivity in the office. Some scholars have suggested that managers should lighten up their work environments to offer an enjoyable working environment to a happy and highly motivated workforce. Although a fun corporate culture promotes commitment, motivation, satisfaction, productivity and trust in the workplace, managers should be aware of some limitations associated with workplace fun like generational differences, misuse by employees, loss of discipline and negative employee attitudes toward personal jokes.Employees are different. While some employees can derive great satisfaction from their duties by self-directing, others may achieve no satisfaction and tend to perform their jobs only to receive remuneration (Kachalla, 2014, p. 39). The reason for such differences relies on the question of motivation. Psychologists, managers, and academicians make efforts to study these different motivations to offer different techniques to motivate employees. One psychologist McGregor categorized employee motivation using two models: Theory Y and Theory X. According to theory Y, employees are self-motivated and derive satisfaction from executing their roles. Therefore, managers only need to provide favorable conditions for employees to perform. Baptiste (2009, p. 601) explains that incorporating fun in the organizational culture motivates subordinates to interact freely with their seniors, thus building trust, encouraging the sharing of ideas and accelerating the formation of a supportive working environment.
An organization that encourages playfulness and creativity will face little or no difficulties in recruiting, inducting and retaining workers. For instance, Google has turned out to be a gold measure in enjoyable working environments and is estimated to attract an average of 3000 new applicants daily (Everett, 2011, p. 2). Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, maintains that Google does not just offer a great job to its employees; instead, it also ensures that its employees enjoy a great life by providing them with everything they require to be happy (Everett, 2011, p. 3). As such, among the most dominant reasons to seek employment at Google is that Google allows its employees to have fun and code at the same time. Google has been ranked in the top five FORTUNEs 100 best corporations worth working for.
Infusing a playful workplace spirit may help in releasing employees from stressful activities. Fun workplaces may enhance productivity, creativity, and learning while reducing cases of burnouts and boredom (Karl, Peluchette and Hall., 2008, p. 72). Burnouts may occur when employees perceive threats to resources and may relate to the insufficient return of resources, loss of work-related resources and job-related demands. Sponsoring fun in the workplace depicts the recognition and appreciation of workers for their efforts, which can be regarded as an active prevention measure for burnout.
Google’s fun organizational culture model enables it to achieve employee motivation. According to Herzberg’s two-factor model, there are specific factors that enhance employee motivation and satisfaction in the workplace (Kachalla, 2014, p. 40). Such elements may be grouped into, motivators and hygiene factors. Motivators usually encourage workers to work harder, while hygiene factors may reduce employee motivation to work. A fun and enjoyable workplace may act as a motivational factor, thus increasing employee job satisfaction. Notably, job satisfaction affects the level of commitment and performance of employees in their jobs (Bolton and Houlihan, 2009, p. 558). In a survey conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute to determine how workplace factors influence employee experience, 81 percent of all the employees who graded their companies as great admitted working in a fun environment.Job satisfaction may profoundly influence life satisfaction. Conversely, job dissatisfaction may affect an employee’s emotional and physical health, leading to absenteeism, tardiness, and turnover (Han, Kim, and Jeong, 2016, p. 1394). Satisfaction may influence workers’ cognitions, commitment, and performance both off and on the job. A firm may only be as successful as its workers, and it follows that employees must achieve the required level of satisfaction to be productive. Job satisfaction is determined by many factors— relationships between employees and the administration, fair wages, and availing a fun and enjoyable workplace. In a fun work environment, employees usually feel trusted, recognized and appreciated for their duties.
Abraham Maslow in his theory of the Hierarchy of Needs attempts to identify some internal factors that can motivate the behavior of an individual. Some needs employees seek to satisfy according to this theory include safety, esteem, social, self-actualization and psychological needs (Kachalla, 2014, p. 41). Psychological needs are needs required by employees for survival like water, air, and shelter. Safety needs entail needs that make employees have a sense of well-being and security like protection from accidents, personal security, health, and financial security. Besides, esteem needs encompass some aspects like recognition, respect, and self-esteem that people may need. Employees tend to become more motivated when they feel respected, praised and recognized. Organizing fun events to appreciate workers for their efforts in the firm is a way of fulfilling their esteem needs, which makes them more motivated to work tirelessly to accomplish the goals of the organization.
Fun and play at work can be a valid technique used to encourage creativity, increase communication, and build trust. While it may not be recommendable for the management to befriend employees, workplace deregulation and to make the workplace lively will provide the managers with an opportunity to link with subordinates. Also, Plester and Hutchison (2016, p. 335) maintain that for an organization to provide excellent services to customers, the managers must provide the same kind of attention to employees first. A manager cannot expect workers to provide services to customers happily if they are not given something to smile about. Research suggests that workplace fun impacts positively on customer service. For instance, at Pike Place Market in Seattle, employees ameliorate the malodorous and grueling labor of preparing fish and selling them to customers by infusing a fun philosophy into their duties (Everett, 2011, p. 4). Employees have fun, relax and provide excellent customer services by tossing fish under, over and to the clients.
Opposing studies suggest that developing a fun workplace culture may impose more harm than good to the firm. According to Fredrick Taylor’s Scientific Management theory, employees don’t usually enjoy their duties in the workplace (Kachalla, 2014, p. 43). Taylor believed that workers had a natural habit of taking easy of slack whenever they found an opportunity to do so. Taylor’s scientific theory of management is similar to Douglas McGregor’s Theory X, which also holds that management must work tirelessly to establish systems to supervise employees because they are unmotivated and fear responsibility. It can be depicted from these two theories that when there is too much fun in the workplace, employees who are lazy and unmotivated to work may take too much time poking fun at each other instead of handling duties allocated to them in the firm. Therefore, instead of developing a fun culture as a way of reducing workplace stress and boredom, workers should be trained to equip them with the right skills to handle challenging roles and provide them with remuneration according to their roles in the firm to ensure they stay motivated.When employees engage in making too many jokes and fun, discipline and silence required in the workplace may not prevail. As long as jokes are being cracked and employees keep giggling and laughing, there may be some amount of noise and chaos (Everett, 2011, p. 5). Throughout the day, enterprises have investors and top entrepreneurs walking in different offices, and if they realize that there is no discipline and order in the workplace, then they might develop negative impressions about the workers. Also, some employees may feel offended by jokes made by their colleagues. Ideally, some employees may be thick-skinned and able to accommodate any jokes directed to them, while others may take things personally and feel frustrated when jokes become personal.
There is a high possibility that an organization may contain up to four different generations of employees. While it may not be easy to determine the formation of a person’s generational identity, research reveals that it starts early in a person’s life (Everett, 2011, p. 6). Theoretically, people who are born during a specific era may form unique beliefs, values, personalities, and perceptions of fun in the firm. As such, it may be assumed that value systems and personalities are heavily dictated by a broad range of forces like peers, parents, popular culture and media. Baby Boomers are said to be self-motivated and naturally competitive and can view fun in the workplace as counterproductive. Generation X tends to demand a work-play balance. As such. Generation X has a high likelihood to value creativity, fun, and informality. Employees in Generation Y, also called Millennials born between 1981 and 2000 have been coached and coddled by their apologetic caregivers leading them to develop over-confidence and strong ambitions. Unlike Generation X who may be neutral concerning workplace fun and the Baby Boomers who may disregard fun, Millennials view workplace fun as a requirement. Therefore, managers should recognize that not every generation can be comfortable with fun workplace culture.
Although a fun corporate culture promotes commitment, motivation, satisfaction, productivity and trust in the workplace, managers should be aware of some limitations associated with workplace fun like generational differences, misuse by employees, loss of discipline and negative employee attitudes toward personal jokes. Organizing fun events in the workplace make employees feel recognized and respected for their hard work, thus increasing motivation. Employees may be exposed to different stressful situations, making jokes and fun important in relieving workplace stress. However, the Baby Boomers in the organization may not appreciate fun as a motivating factor. Workplace fun may also encourage indiscipline as some lazy employees may major on making funs at the expense of executing their roles in the firm.