Are your Fun-at-Work activities a flop?

When do you know that it’s time to PAUSE and RE-think?

Well, when things are not working your way or maybe when they are not working the GOOD WAY.

You have a dress-up day at office and there are just few employees in the dress code.

You announced a contest and there is no employee ENTHUSIASM to participate.

You distributed company’s T-shirts and no one wears them to work.

Now that’s the time you, as HR, must think what you are doing wrong with your fun at work activities.

Studies prove that not just MONEY and RECOGNITION, it is also the social and psychological fulfillment that keeps employees MOTIVATED and ENGAGED at work. Fun at work activities are a simple yet effective way to make employees feel connected with each other and with the organization. These activities help to ease the pressure of deadlines and commitments (though for some time) and let employees relax at work.

Then why is it that employees at times avoid to be part of activities organized in their best interest?

If you are concerned about why your Fun-at-work activities do not work out well with employees, these might be some of the reasons:-

You make it too FORMAL

If you appear out of HR glass doors on Fridays and expect employees to join you in fun activities, you will face disappointment. Unless employees feel involved they won’t participate. They must first trust you and know you in order to join you into anything. Fun-at-work must be part of your company’s culture for employees to understand and enjoy it.

Your employees are UPSET

Think again, is there anything that your employees are not happy about, maybe appraisal, bonus or benefits. Any promises that have been broken in the past. If yes, probably it is their way of showing that displeasure. Ofcourse, they do not want to give you an opportunity to compensate this way.

Managers do not PARTICIPATE

A great boost to employee morale and enthusiasm comes from their managers. If managers do not participate for any reason (best known to them) it is most obvious that their team also feel hesitant or disinterested to join.

Employees do not have TIME

Work load (for any reason) is also a possibility why employees miss to join any activity that requires them to stay late to meet deadlines. If activities are scheduled during work hours, anticipate some no shows already.

Is there anything that you as HR can do about it?


Change your approach to Employee Engagement activities. Try to understand what really matters to employees. REDESIGN your employee engagement model; make it more stimulating for employees.

Change Fun-at-work attitude to Fun-in-work

“We will never—and I mean never—turn our backs on our employees” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks

Starbucks is ruling on sales and customer loyalty because of its highly committed employees. The company has strategically focused engagement activities that involves employee at all level with its mission, vision and performance. It provides every opportunity for collaboration and innovation to its employees. It has an incredible culture of thanking, appreciating employees and seeking employee feedback in every matter possible.

This is how best organizations do it. They make employee engagement an ongoing activity.

Organizations and HR pros everywhere are getting experimental with their engagement practices to keep low on employee turnover and promote better work culture. Approach engagement through Fun-at-work activities with a more open mindset to make it part of your workplace culture.

When planning Fun-at-work activities keep employees involved. Invite suggestions, create polls, ask for volunteers, and let them feel a part of it.

– Promote social connections at work through internal networking groups, knowledge communities that encourage cross team interaction.

HR behavior influences employee behavior. Encourage them by looking and behaving enthusiastic yourself.

A reward/prize might do the trick. Recognize and appreciate employee participation.

Encourage open and honest communication at work.

Promote team collaboration by organizing out of office events.

If you are starting afresh, things might move slowly initially. And yet again, organizing parties, events and giveaways is just one aspect of Fun-at-work. The real fun happens when employees seem to enjoy their work and the workplace. Though it is not always possible to make work a fun business (it is meant to be a serious affair), connecting employees with the organization is the real idea.

I will wait to hear your views and thoughts on encouraging employees to join fun-at work activities?

About the Author:

Meetu Khanduja is an HR professional with extensive experience of working with IT/ITES industry. She holds an MBA (HR) and PDG in IPR (Intellectual Property Rights). She shares her experience and views on HR on her blog – www.hrdictionaryblog.com

  • Great post. As you mentioned, there are a number of great reasons to incorporate fun at work and not just “soft” reasons. One study showed that 84% of employees believed a fun workplace would make them more productive! Find out more benefits of humor at work.

  • Meetu Khanduja says:

    Hey Andrew,
    Thanks for stopping by… I agree that Fun at work activities have great impact on employee morale and productivity. Appreciate your feedback!
    Thank again for sharing the wonderful link

  • Thomas says:

    Hi Amit,

    Hope you’re good. Thanks for sharing such a valuable info on your blog.

    I have actually been out of communication for a while. Right now, I’m not working and concentrating fully on the kids (3 boys) although I was the human resources assistant (the highest position for national staff in HR) with Medecin sans Frontieres Spain.

    My biggest challenge in HR and people management back then was mostly with the expatriates. Some of them felt slighted when a national staff tends to tell them what to do and sometimes withhold information and would rather give it to another expat (it was frustrating at most times).

    In the part of the national staff, they felt my alliance should be with them even when I’m going along with company policies and guidelines but along the line I also got wonderful supervisors (expatriates – the human resource coordinators) and we worked along together very well and also tried to bridge the gap between the expats and national staffs.

    In all, it was challenging but also fulfilling. I hope to get back into the work environment soon enough.

    Thanks for all your efforts and resources and well done on the good job.



  • Helena Jackson says:

    Hi Meetu,

    A very nice attempt in creating value out of employee engagement activities.

    Even if I am making all my efforts in involving people from start some way in the middle the momentum is lost somehow. They will participate enthusiastically but then i feel the vigor is lost somewhere. I have also heard the managers saying that your appraisals will not depend on these activities but your core work.

    Don’t you think we can also assign KRAs in how much people are getting involved in company events etc so that they feel its an integral part of the company’s culture? Do you think it will be a right step?


  • George Matthew says:


    I think we should take a top down approach rather than taking a bottom’s up. Leaders are the drivers and custodians of any organizational culture and values. People look up to them and try to follow in their foot steps.

    What I can suggest is to take them in loop and ask them to actively participate in all HR initiatives. This way they can do role modelling and as an HR you will get automatic buy in of people.

    What do you say Meetu?


  • Gladys Muloongo says:

    Hi Amit, thanks for this great article again. Set ups of certain organisation make it quite hard to implement certain activities. These are orgs that have half its employees locals and half expariates, with the whole magt expats. Expats doing the same jobs as locals get three times more than locals and this has been a huge demoralising factor making fun-day-at work activities a mockery. With expats on board employers of such orgs care less to motivate emplyees knowing even if the locals strike work will still be done by the expats in the mean time. Please advise HRs in such predicaments!1

  • Meetu Khanduja says:

    Hi Helena,

    Glad you like the post! Yes, if not KRA then at least in can be a decide factor while promotions and appraisals. Employees who do not (or do not want to) feel involved with organization and peers might not be fit for roles that require higher level for commitment and engagement.

    And ofcourse as you said, at times it is the lack of support from managers that employees chose to stay away from these activities.

    Thanks for your feedback :)


  • Meetu Khanduja says:

    Hi George,
    Thanks for stopping by!
    That’s absolutely true. Leaders are the makers of work culture. When the set the rules right, employees shall follow.


  • Alice Nakyonyi says:

    Thanks Amit for the article problem is some fun activities are not generic what i mean is they do not involve all employees how do you then involve the group that feels or is infact left out?

  • MD NURUL HUQ says:

    Thanks Meetu. You explain the real scenario in a nice way. I was passing through some problem like this. I got really some good thought from your article.
    Thanks again :)

  • MD NURUL HUQ says:

    Thanks Meetu. You explain the real scenario in a nice way. I was passing through some problem like this. I got really some good thought from your article.
    Thanks again :)

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