The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

How to Bring the Fun at Work

When was the last time you had honest-to-goodness fun at work? I’m talking tell-your-family-and-friends fun. Think-about-it-afterward-and-smile fun. Mentally-check-out-and-enjoy-the-moment fun.

If you can’t recall the last time your team, department or office had fun as a group, it’s definitely been too long! For too many employees, work can be like groundhog day. Same tasks, same meetings, same conversations, same cubicle … week in and week out. A break from the monotony, stress and pressure, even for just 30 minutes, can do wonders for morale, engagement and productivity.

If your team could benefit from some workplace revelry, here are some inexpensive, easy-to-implement ways to bring the fun on any given day at work:

  • Celebrate National ________ Day. There’s a “day” for just about everything these days … national take a walk day; national recycling day; national talk like a pirate day; national bagel day; national do something nice day; national Star Wars day (May the 4th be with you!) … the list goes on. Pick three or four national “days” to celebrate at work throughout the year. It’s pretty inexpensive to bring a few boxes of doughnuts in to share on national doughnut day. For national let’s laugh day, posting some funny jokes in the break room or playing some funny videos on loop in the conference room is sure to get a chuckle or two. A little friendly competition is always fun, as well. How about gathering in the conference room for a 20-minute trivia game on national trivia day (it’s fun and educational!). Or maybe there’s a prize for the employee who brings in the best homemade cookies on national homemade cookie day. Or perhaps there’s a contest for the most creatively named car on national name your car day. You get the idea. Celebrating these silly, lighthearted national “days” can offer time for coworkers to engage with one another, take a break and relax a little.
  • What will ________ wear? Nat Measley and Nick Gianoulis of The Fun Dept. offer up this gem in their book Playing It Forward. Here’s how it works: Pick someone in your office with a good sense of humor (let’s say John — but be sure John is aware of/on board with the game!). Everyone else guesses what they think John will wear the next day. The winner is the one who most closely predicts John’s outfit. The winner gets a $10 gift card and a photo with John.
  • Have a monthly “celebration.” Here at the CUPA-HR national office, we have a mini celebration every month where we all gather in the conference room for camaraderie, snacks and group activities. (We have a “celebration team” consisting of four to five employees that plans and coordinates six months’ worth of celebrations. Every six months, a new celebration team takes the reins.) During the celebration, that month’s birthdays and work anniversaries are announced. Activities have included a cookie decorating contest, a “guess your colleague by his or her baby photo” game, watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” at the October celebration, a game of Pictionary on our dry erase wall, a make your own ice cream sundae station, a breakfast potluck and more. It’s always fun to let loose a little and spend some time with work colleagues when we’re not all thinking and talking about work!
  • Encourage small tokens of appreciation. A thank-you note, a chocolate bar, a small potted plant, a $5 Starbucks gift card, a can of soda … any of these things would make my day if I came into work and found them on my desk. Encourage coworkers to recognize a job well done, a project completed or assistance provided by practicing random acts of kindness. This can also work as a pick-me-up if someone is having a rough day.

Most employees appreciate the chance to take a break from the hum-drum and/or craziness of work and have some fun. Just make sure that the fun you’re planning will be fun for most (let’s be real – you can’t please ‘em all!) everyone … not just the few who are planning it. Measley and Gianoulis of The Fun Dept. recommend polling your team, office or department to find out what’s fun for them. Questions you can ask include:

  • What do you do for fun – at work and outside of work?
  • What’s been your favorite fun thing we’ve done at work?
  • What have you heard, read about or experienced other companies doing for fun?
  • What did you do for fun last night? Yesterday at work? Last weekend?

Asking these kinds of questions of your team, say Measley and Gianoulis, can give you lots of ideas for fun activities.

There are lots of ways to have fun at work — and to do so without investing a lot of time or resources. It’s all about what works best for your team or organization’s culture. So go ahead, take the leap. Have some fun at work!


The CUPA-HR office will be closed Fridays through August 19.