Is it possible to run a successful business and still have fun?
In this modern business culture, having fun might be the only way. Too many companies out there have uninspired employees. There is no enthusiasm about work, innovating, or connecting with the others at work. Try being a customer of a company like that! No thanks! I’ll pass.
Google invests heavily in its culture, having the right offices formatted the right way, and paying people to work on their own little projects. What is the result? A job that means something. Most people find no satisfaction at work, but Google employees work in a stimulating atmosphere where it is hard not to find meaning in their work.
1. Start by hiring the right people
If you hire people who have no enthusiasm, you will not be able to create a culture around them. Even one toxic or boring person will ruin your culture. Culture is a hard thing to build and a lot can go wrong. You might be advised to find people whose last job was in a cool culture. But, if they were in such a cool environment, why would they quit unless they were forced to move?
2. Some companies out there are learning that the most dynamic conversations happen when people bump into each other in the hall way, or by accident somewhere. Some companies are designing their offices specifically to engineer more of these spontaneous combustion type conversations that lead to innovations. It might be hard to rebuild your building, but I’m sure there are things you could do to keep people bumping into each other by accident.
3. Many call centers who do BPO outsourcing do Google type things like having contests, prizes, and winners to keep the excitement going. Call center work is not quite as innovative as being part of the Google culture, but by keeping the momentum going, they do create a positive culture at some of the more successful call cneters. Remember, that they have the highest burnout rate of any profession, so they have to keep the environment positive.
4. Fitness counts, but try getting your employees to the mountains or beach. Google offers on-site fitness like swimming pools, gyms, and more. Nothing builds that winning feeling like working out. Fat, unhealthy workers might not contribute much to a vibrant culture, but if you get them moving, you might be surprised. I have an innovative job, and I need to keep my life exciting just to function. I go hiking, walking, and try new restaurants in my area. That is how I personally maintain a positive one-person culture if there is such a thing!
5. Do more for your employees to make them feel special.
I drive to my employees homes to give them a check on a regular basis. Perhaps they take this for granted, but no other boss would do that. It personalizes the work. Giving people unique birthday celebrations, or celebrating special occasions in an unusual way is another way to foster a positive and innovative culture.
6. Google has a billiards room, a slide, a rowboat, table soccer, and other unusual objects. At Google, work is designed to be mixed with play. After all, you won’t be at your smartest or happiest if you never have any fun.
7. Google hires people who are from all walks of life, speak dozens of languages and who pursue a wide range of interests including beekeeping, frisbee and fox-trotting. It might be a good idea to find out what types of hobbies your applicants have before hiring them if you want a lively job atmosphere. And if someone doesn’t have a hobby, you might try having a program to help incubate new hobbies.
8. The Google culture is associated with a startup culture, but Google has thousands of employees. The secret to maintaining the startup culture is to maintain an environment where employees can communicate freely with higher ups, and people in other departments in a casual way in the cafeteria, gym, or other parts of the company.
9. Do things outside of the office as a team. Google employees often go hiking, skiing or have picnics together. Building the bonds of a recreational culture in the workplace create strong bonds and good feelings. Personally, I think that rock climbing builds the healthiest relationships between people. Rock climbers are the coolest, not to mention the fact that you are putting your life in someone’s hands if they belay you which builds trust in the work place (assuming nobody dies.)
So, you can be more like Google. It’s easy. Just think of things you can do. But, if you think it is too hard, then you’re probably a boring defeatist and aren’t up to Google’s cool standards anyway — so give up! You’ll never make it! But, for the rest of us — we can — and success starts with a short brainstorming session and a few quick actions.