All Work and No Play Makes a Business Worth Less

Google London

To successfully cultivate plants you need the right tools. Cultivating the potential of talented people and their ideas is no different. You need the right tools and the right environment to encourage and support their growth.

Digital businesses are often incredibly creative businesses – and the working environment can play a huge part in harnessing or hindering this.

Here’s the advice I give to any business (established or starting out), on how to make sure that their workplaces do what any business asset should: generate value for the company by making the most of human potential. 

In fact, most businesses have a lot to learn from a number of digital or creative businesses who are already doing things the right way. But we could all probably improve.

Start with the office

A working environment is defined both by its infrastructure and its atmosphere – the ‘vibe’ of the workplace. If you want to keep your people, it’s best to work on both.

Some companies go the extra mile when it comes to building a fun and innovation-inducing environment. Google, for instance has a yellow brick road installed in the ‘Googleplex’ and provides free scooters, free food and volleyball courts for its staff.

?What If! were given the accolade of the EU’s best place to work in both 2004 and 2005 by the Great Place to Work Institute. Their reception area doubles up as a meeting hub, with praise for employees written across the walls and ceiling.

Pixar’s working environment includes colourful huts for its creative teams while Red Bull’s futuristic London offices include a slide for people to use to go down to the next floor. 

We don’t all have budgets like Google’s, but we can all do something to enhance the atmosphere in our workplaces. Some people may do it with design and colour, others by creating workplace activities or celebrations. Whatever you choose, a pleasant and stimulating environment will boost both energy and morale.

Celebrate success (and have fun!)

It’s not just about surroundings, though. It’s also about work practices.

Feel Good Drinks, for instance, have Feel Good Days. “We celebrate every success and will spontaneously declare a day or afternoon a Feel Good Day. That’s when we tell the team to drop everything, and we go out and do something fun for a couple of hours,” explains co-founder Dave Wallwork. 

“Whether that’s taking people to a spa and having massages, or taking them out to lunch somewhere or having cocktails after work – it’s all about keeping the guys positive and buzzing in the team, and making sure they’re passing on that feeling to customers.”

While upbeat surroundings and activities encourage creativity, productivity and loyalty, having a laugh can also encourage staff retention.

An Ipsos study revealed that staff who consider their managers to have an ‘above average’ sense of humour are 90% likely to remain in their jobs and still be there a year later, while employees with managers rated as having an ‘average’ or ‘below average’ sense of humour deemed the chances of remaining as 77.5%.

The Great Place to Work Institute says that, in great workplaces, employees experience both a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and a fun, enjoyable spirit.

They add that employee perceptions of their workplace as a fun place almost exactly mirror their trust in their employer.

There is an extraordinary correlation. In the 100 best companies, approximately 81% of all employees experience high levels of trust and think their workplaces are fun places to be.

From Vision To ExitFrom Vision to Exit by Guy Rigby (Harriman House, 2011) is available in paperback and eBook.  Chinwag readers can purchase the book at a discounted rate by using the following link:

Photo (cc) CDI Europe