Google landed the top spot on Fortune's list of "Best Places to Work for 2007," and the magazine cover boasted "Googlers" -- as the employees are often called -- clearly laughing and having fun.
The majority of executives and HR professionals say a culture of fun at work can improve communication, reduce stress, build loyalty and retention, and increase productivity among employees.
And it doesn't have to be expensive. If your company doesn't have the budget or the space for Ping-Pong tables and elaborate game rooms, there are many things you can do for little to no money to bring fun and humor to your office.
For $10 Sendaball.com will ship a bright, bouncy ball (about the size of a volleyball) anywhere in the United States. There's no exterior packaging, so the ball arrives addressed and stamped with a greeting that reads: "Have a ball."
To test the response, I recently sent a bunch of them to my clients. The feedback was unanimous. It brought so much energy and fun among colleagues who loved tossing it among the cubicles and across the factory floors. It also made me look creative for sending it, which is a good reputation to have in the workplace!
If the boss won't pay for your laughs, take up a collection on your own. Place a computer-generated or handmade sticker saying, "Chuck Your Change!" on an upturned large water bottle. Set it out in a high-visibility location within your office, so co-workers are encouraged to contribute. Your pennies for perks will add up quickly. Use the funds to pay for a pizza party, an ice cream afternoon, a bowling night -- whatever your budget will allow. You can even select a different activity each week or month, depending on the size of the collection.
Put a big bowl of M&Ms in a common area for co-workers to share. Because bright yellow is a color known to stimulate the brain, making you more alert and decisive, consider using this happy and energetic hue in your dish.
At MyMMs.com, you can order custom-printed candies with your company logo or a clever message.
If Google staffers have tea and crumpets every Tuesday, then why can't you?
Set a day and time, and let everyone know they can join together for milk and cookies, hot cocoa and cupcakes, or whatever sweet you choose. If you work in a big company, departments can take turns hosting this monthly gathering.
No matter the size of your employer, it's a great way to socialize and connect personally with your colleagues. You'll meet new people and get to know others better.
From $19.95 to $39.95, plus shipping, you can send sweets to any office from BakeMeAWish.com. Bring smiles when you tell clients or colleagues that they "Take the cake!" with any number of delicious gourmet treats.
In one survey, 96 percent of executives said they believed people with a sense of humor worked better than people with little or no sense of humor. Show your humorous side by replacing some of your basic office supplies with fun, clever ones from KnockKnock.biz starting at just $3.95.
A little laughter through unexpected jokes like these can reduce stress and build camaraderie. In fact, when flights are delayed, Southwest Airlines encourages its gate agents to hold joke-a-thons and contests for the passengers with the biggest holes in their socks. The resulting laughter is cathartic; it diffuses tension, and keeps people happy and relaxed.