Balancing Productivity and Fun in the Workplace

Work can’t be a constant laugh-fest. If the office perpetually resembles an after-hours club in Ibiza, no work will get done. Alternatively, if each day seems like a dour slog through a Stalin-era gulag, it doesn’t bode well for long-term efficiency either.

It’s easy to mistake serious and boring for professionalism but tamping down too much on workplace joy can lead to long-term negative consequences. An unpleasant environment will foster increased turnover and an unengaged workforce will ultimately prove less productive than one infused with a sense of exuberance.

Business books love to talk about culture. Often, details are left vague, but one goal of a strong corporate vibe is to inject some joy into the worker’s experience. It opens up creativity and helps bind people to the company.

But, of course, chasing fun can go too far. If the workday becomes one long ping-pong tournament/gossip chat show, there might not be a company to enjoy for very long. Work shouldn’t become a clubhouse.

So, how do you find the proper mix? Here are five key aspects of balancing fun and productivity.

Eliminate Negativity

The first part of a doctor’s Hippocratic oath says, “Do no harm.” Keep that in mind for setting the workplace mood.

Don’t inject negativity unnecessarily. Even when focused on production, keep the mood upbeat and supportive. It doesn’t create “fun,” per se, but it will provide a pleasant experience, which for an office environment, can seem at least fun-adjacent.

Provide Clear Production Targets

Set transparent deadlines well in advance and workers can find their own work/fun balance. If people know what they are supposed to produce and when it’s due, there will be little confusion about when work needs to get done.

Coming up on a project deadline? Everyone knows it’s time to buckle down. Finished everything early? Maybe the team can check out at 4:30 on Friday and meet up for some jalapeno poppers.


Use fun as an incentive for productivity. When your team reaches a goal or achieves a target, reward them with a celebration.

This can take the form of an at-work treat, a small break-room party or bringing in a fun lunch. Or you can splurge a bit and take everyone out for something more grandiose.

Build Relationships

Don’t forget: Fun acts as fuel for teamwork. People who know and like each other will work better together.

For that reason, don’t view production and fun as complete opposites. Joy and laughter can drive creativity and lead to better work results in the long run.

Enjoying Work as Work

By enjoying your work, productivity becomes fun. Beyond helping foster teamwork, fun can become the driving motivation for employees to push themselves further.

Want people to volunteer for longer hours? Looking to see your team members stretch themselves? Help them enjoy their work and they will happily commit to more responsibility.

Having the right employees can make productivity/fun balance easier to find. Competent, upbeat and engaged professionals naturally mix business and pleasure.

SmartTalent can find the right staff to fit your ideal culture. Contact them today to find out more.

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