A recent article from Entrepreneur.com offers some steps on creating a “fun, positive company culture.” But of course, this raises as many questions as it does answers.
Like: Never mind the how of making your company culture fun. What about the why? Is it even a worthwhile goal to try to make your company a fun place to work?
The author at Entrepreneur.com obviously thinks so. “I’ve always believed businesses that encourage play are the ones where the best people do their best work,” the article begins. “Employees love to work hard when they also get to play hard.”
My own answer to the question: It depends. What are your motives for making your company culture fun? Why are you making this your goal? You have to answer those questions before you do anything else.
There are plenty of good reasons to try to make your company fun. There’s some truth to the idea that a fun workplace can help you with employee retention—though only if it’s paired with opportunities for meaningful career advancement. I also think there’s something to be said for a fun culture as an incubator of creativity.
If you want to make your company a fun place to work because you think your employees will be happier, healthier, more productive, and more motivated, then you won’t hear any argument from me.
With that said, there is such a thing as doing an okay thing for the wrong reasons. I can think of a few bad reasons for building a fun company culture. One is because you simply want to be known as a fun place to work—which may help you get new job applicants in the door, but then what are you doing to keep them there? As a goal, this is fairly shortsighted.
Meanwhile, I think some companies want to make themselves fun without ever pausing to think about the measurable results they hope to achieve from that. This is probably a shallow view of company culture—unless you just value fun for fun’s sake.
And hey! I’m a fun-loving guy, so don’t take any of this as a criticism of the idea of fun company culture. I just think it’s important to pursue this thoughtfully—and to have some sense of why you’re doing it.