How to Lighten the Mood in a Workplace

It's still work, but you can have a little fun.

It's still work, but you can have a little fun.

There's a reason they call it "work" and not "play." At the office, you're supposed to be doing productive tasks instead of goofing off. However, if your workplace is a serious bummer, it's going to make it tough for you and your co-workers to feel motivated to do many productive tasks. To lighten the mood in your workplace, look for little things you can do both during and after work. Not only will it make it easier to get up for work in the morning, but it can also help to increase productivity in the office.

Install a game or diversion such as a ping pong or foosball table in the break room. Not only does it give people something fun and slightly competitive to look forward to on their breaks, it also encourages workers to do something active that gets their minds off work.

Organize a workplace walking group or other fitness activity for before, during or after work. Similar to games in the break room, this gets workers exercising together, allowing them to socialize while focusing on something healthful. Since exercise stimulates endorphins, it's likely to help to lighten workers' moods. To get people to participate, make it fun and competitive -- give workers points for participating, and then reward the most dedicated folks with a salon or grocery store gift card when they've reached a certain goal.

Look at your own attitude and adjust it accordingly. If you're the boss or a supervisor, others are looking to you to set the tone. If you're constantly a grouch or downtrodden, other people are likely to follow suit. Look for ways to change your dialogue so that it's focused on positive reinforcement instead of negative. For example, reward a worker when she meets her sales goals instead of punishing her when she doesn't.

Use comedy during business presentations, suggests Human Resources expert Barbara Mitchell. Even if the subject matter is serious, use a funny ice breaker to lighten the mood before the heavy stuff starts. Look for cartoons, anecdotes or short videos for your presentations -- according to Mitchell, comedy can spark creativity and encourage participation.

Remember employees' birthdays, and do something special for them. A hand-written note or other recognition can improve worker morale -- and lighten the mood of the office.

Plan regular gatherings after work. Every month or quarter, invite workers to a local happy hour or lunch spot, and pay for a drink or a meal on the company's dime. Providing a forum for gathering outside of work can allow workers to loosen up and sound off away from the office, which may cut down on the amount of whining and drudgery that happens during office hours.

Tip

  • If you decide to hold some type of contest to encourage worker participation in your activity, be sure that the activity is accessible to all workers, including those with disabilities or special needs.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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