As big name companies have illustrated, it’s possible to run a successful business while still having fun. Google, for example, is the poster child of a unique company culture, with its nap pods and free food for employees.
While the company invests millions of dollars a year into offices and culture, it’s possible for smaller companies to create a unique company culture as well. At my company, HVAC.com, we do our best to create a fun office culture without spending a fortune.
Here are five of our secrets to a fun culture that builds camaraderie:
Create fun office challenges.
Anyone who’s seen the movie The Internship knows Google uses office competitions to motivate its employees. Not only can small companies do this as well, they can also incorporate other office challenges to create a fun workplace culture.
Our office does a lot of fun challenges that get team members involved and provide a break from the workday. We have an annual chili cook-off competition, ping pong matches, foosball tournaments and kickball in the parking lot. We also participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
These ideas are mostly free and fun to do. Organizations can also offer a small reward for the winners, such as a gift card to a local restaurant. Personalize it to the office and the staff and get everyone involved.
More than half of workers feel like they’re overweight, according to CareerBuilder. Google offers gyms and swimming pools, and while most companies may not have the resources to do that, they can definitely incorporate fitness into the workplace.
At HVAC.com, we recently had a push-up challenge. It was a personal challenge to gradually improve everyone’s personal best where we encouraged each other to do better. Over the course of 30 days, we gradually worked our way up to doing 50 push-ups. It was a fun, friendly way to incorporate fitness into the day and it got the whole office involved. In fact, it worked so well that we did a sit-up challenge next!
Fitness activities can be a fun way to break up the day and get employees moving. Think about incorporating a “Biggest Loser”-style competition, or consider utilizing walking meetings to be both productive and active. It doesn’t have to cost a dime — get creative and have fun with it!
Celebrate special occasions in unique ways.
Google recently gave one employee a week off for his birthday after his young daughter wrote a letter to the company requesting it. Smaller companies can do things to celebrate special occasions, too. Making employees feel appreciated goes a long ways toward creating a positive company culture.
We once celebrated an employee’s birthday by making sushi rolls for lunch. We carved pumpkins for an autumn celebration. We toasted with champagne to celebrate a key milestone.
Think about making a calendar with everyone’s birthday or having a monthly celebration. Or give everyone an afternoon off to just say thank you.
Make time for fun.
Google has proven success doesn’t have to be all work and no play. The company has a slide, a billiards room, and other fun things employees can take advantage of when they need a break. While every office doesn’t necessarily need a slide, making time for fun is an easy and free way to create a great company culture.
HVAC.com employees once filled my office with balloons for my birthday. Our team also took a morning to have an ugly sweater day photo shoot.
It doesn’t have to cost money or take a lot of time, but it’s important to set aside a little time for fun. Employees will relax and the office will have a good atmosphere. Just remember to keep it light and harmless to avoid losing too much time and productivity.
(Occasionally) get out of the office.
Google employees take ski trips and go on summer picnics, and while these aren’t things a company can do every week, getting out of the office is good to give employees a break and help keep motivation levels up.
Our employees go on international mission trips and spend time volunteering with local charities every year. We hosted a summer cookout and invited the local fire and police department to show our appreciation. We took a marketing field trip to a sign museum.
Getting out of the office every so often can help employees feel refreshed and excited about work. It provides a small break so they can come back with increased focus and productivity.
The culture of an organization is increasingly important. Creating this unique culture doesn’t have to cost thousands, and can affect how team members interact with each other, build stronger relationships and, ideally, increase productivity.