How Great Companies Create Fun in the Workplace

TED KITTERMAN

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TED KITTERMAN

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The landscape of the Singaporean workplace is evolving, as data shows that employees who work in a workplace imbued with a sense of enjoyment and amusement experience a profound uptick in their overall well-being. This revelation, it turns out, holds true not only for the younger generations but across the entire spectrum of age groups. 

Our Great Place To Work® data showcases how the integration of enjoyment fosters a lasting connection between employees and their organizations. In particular, fun is an important driver of well-being in the workplace, and not just for younger generations:

 

Well-being has become an increasingly large concern for employers in the post-pandemic workplace. The data suggests employers should be looking for ways to build “fun” into the workday. But how should we define “fun” in a work setting? Here are some ideas: 

How great companies promote fun

“I think we need to redefine what fun in the workplace means,” says Rebecca Nunez, founder and CEO of The MRN Agency, a cultural intelligence and experiential marketing agency with offices in Los Angeles and Mexico City. 

For many workplaces, “fun” has been embodied by office perks like ping pong tables, craft beer or kombucha on tap, catered lunches, and more. But Nunez argues that’s a reductive way to think about creating a fun workplace. 

“As a leader, part of my job is understanding what ‘fun’ means for each employee,” Nunez says. “Because not everyone necessarily finds those perks to be enough to feel like they’re being valued and seen.” 

While some employees might appreciate a happy hour with craft cocktails in the office, others would rather spend that hour beating the traffic to get home to their families. 

For Nunez, the real magic happens when you learn more about what an individual employee likes—their passions and interests. 

“If I know that someone loves spin, and their spin class is at 6 p.m., and that class is important to them, it’s my job to make sure that they make it to their class,” Nunez says. 

At large companies, learning about employees’ individual preferences has to be intentional. 

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants creates a Personal Preference Profile during onboarding, where employees fill out a questionnaire. Questions vary in length and complexity: 

  • What do you like to do for fun when not at work? 
  • What is your favorite food or snack? 
  • Tell us one thing that people would be most surprised to know about you. 

Managers can then use this profile to surprise and delight employees when celebrating milestones or recognizing their hard work. 

Opting out

For culture events to truly delight employees, they cannot be mandatory. Instead, companies must use careful listening and engagement to develop programs that incentivize participation. 

Otherwise, you’re just creating more work obligations. 

Nunez recommends having an upfront and candid conversation about what is mandatory when creating culture moments, otherwise employees will worry about the optics of refusing to participate. 

“Take that away from the beginning,” she recommends. “And then get feedback.” After a companywide retreat that brought employees together from both the Los Angeles and Mexico City offices, Nunez sent a survey to employees to learn about what resonated with employees and what didn’t work. 

“At the end of the day, you’re doing it for them, so it should be for them and not for yourself,” she says. 

When bringing employees together, companies should find more than one compelling reason for participation. 

At Visa, employee resource groups (ERGs) play an important role in creating programs that entertain and engage employees. Every third Wednesday of the month, the company holds an ice cream social in partnership with the Return to Office team. 

ERGs set up booths that employees can visit, learning more about each of the ERGs and potentially signing up to become a member while enjoying a sweet treat. 

The activity promotes in-person collaboration and engagement with the ERGs, which Visa credits with increased ERG membership and awareness of the ERG across the company. 

Creating a culture of support

Leaders aren’t the only ones who can build a culture of caring and camaraderie in an organization. 

Nunez particularly values the ways her employees are incentivized to care for one another. The MRN Agency has what it calls its “No Solider Left Behind” where colleagues are encouraged to offer support when they see a co-worker struggling to keep up with their workload. 

“If someone is still working at 6 p.m. because they haven’t finished, maybe you offer to get them a Starbucks,” Nunez shares as an example of the policy in action. “If someone worked all weekend, ask them if there is something you could take off their plate? Maybe they need to go have a laundry day and you could cover for them.” 

For Nunez, these values of care and collaboration are deeply tied to the relationships that are built with events and activities that are often labelled “fun.” And if employees can’t find a healthy work balance, they don’t have time to invest in the relationships that are so valuable for her business to thrive. 

“Fun doesn’t always need an activity,” she says. “Fun can mean, ‘Let’s just wait; let’s take a beat; let’s take a pause.’” 

The need for consistency

When trying to instill a culture of fun into the workplace, Nunez advises that leaders can’t afford to be inconsistent. If you create an expectation around company events and gatherings, they have to be honored, even when it’s difficult to keep them on the schedule. 

“I can’t tell people, ‘Well, let’s skip this month or I will owe you this lunch,’” explains Nunez. “People will start to lose faith in it. It’s really hard to create a chain reaction of people feeling good and being positive.” 

Nunez shared another piece of advice: Don’t take it personally if your employees reject what you thought would be a fun activity. “As a leader, you want everyone to love all your ideas,” she says. “That’s not always the case.”   

Business impact

For smaller companies like the MRN Agency (less than 30 U.S. employees), it can be hard to justify big expenses on company perks or outings. But for leaders like Nunez, the investment has a clear return for the business. 

“I value my people,” she says. “While the work and the clients are ultimately what keeps the lights on, without my people, we don’t get anywhere.” 

Nunez measures the business impact of being a fun place to work several ways: 

1. Word-of-mouth referrals. When employees speak about her agency, Nunez can count on a good report that builds the reputation of her company, both with potential new employees and clients.

2. Incentivizing in-person work. The nature of Nunez’s business means employees can’t be completely remote — a competitive barrier for Nunez in recruiting talent. She sees efforts to build a “fun” workplace as a crucial way to stay competitive and entice workers to pick a job that can’t always be flexible.

3. Healthier employees with higher engagement levels. “With my more senior team members, the responsibility and the pressure that they carry is something I admire,” says Nunez. “They need balance, not just to stay at our agency but to keep bringing 100% of themselves every day.”

When an employer can reward hard work with a little bit of fun, it helps workers feel seen and valued. 

“I see that a personal investment for me,” says Nunez, “because I’m investing in their salaries, which is a lot more expensive than their lunch.” 

Learn more about your workforce

Use Great Place To Work® Certification™ to get unmatched data on how employees feel about their work. 

 

TED KITTERMAN

Ted Kitterman is a content manager for Great Place To Work®. Ted has experience covering the workplace, business communications, public relations, internal communications, work culture, employee well-being, brand purpose and more. His work shines a light on the unparalleled data and insights offered by Great Place to Work’s decades of research, helping the company share its vision of a great place to work For All™.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

This year, Great Place To Work® Singapore is proud to launch our inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces™ in Healthcare & Biopharma List. This list recognizes exemplary companies in the healthcare & biopharma industry.

Recognized as a global hub for medical technology and research, Singapore has attracted top healthcare and biopharma talents and companies from around the world. It has become the center for essential healthcare services and innovations with its world-class research institutes, academic medical centers, and industry clusters.

In turn, the healthcare and biopharma sectors play a critical role in the country’s economic competitiveness, sustainability, and innovation. These industries have significantly helped in the overall improvement of public health and well-being of the people of Singapore and its neighboring countries.

The inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces in Healthcare and Biopharma List puts the spotlight on the organizations that are dedicated to providing employee satisfaction and engagement, and their commitment to excellence in the industry.

The companies in our Great Place To Work Certified™ community have the premier distinction that helps attract the best talent, build your employer brand, and secure a competitive advantage. To achieve this, they built a working environment that is purpose-driven and people-first. These companies have demonstrated that showing authentic care, prioritizing employee’s holistic well-being, and building a culture of trust go hand in hand with growth and success.

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Healthcare and Biopharma, Great Place to Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore.Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place to Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry.The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced.To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place to Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place to Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry. The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category.

Methodology

This year, Great Place To Work™ Singapore is proud to launch our inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces in Technology List. This List recognizes exemplary companies in the information and communication technologies industry in four categories:

  • Micro category (10–29 employees)
  • Small (30-99 employees)
  • Medium (100-999 employees)
  • Large (> 1000 employees)

With Singapore’s ambition to be recognized as a regional technology hub, the influx of technology firms (around 80 of the world’s top 100 technology firms have a presence here) and global rankings that place us a leading technology hub outside of San Francisco, the establishment of a Singapore Best Workplaces List in Technology is indeed a timely and needed one. Technology firms in Singapore are characterized by hyper-growth and ambitious expansion plans. This means a continuous war for talent in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving industry.

To maintain our lead as a technology and innovation hub, the ability to attract, retain and sustain skilled talent is critical. We are proud that companies in our Great Place To Work®-Certified community List have built a high-trust culture, engaged employees and maximized their potential to facilitate innovation. They are purpose-driven and adopt a people-first mindset. These are companies that have shown that authentic care and employee well-being need not be compromised for ambitious growth, and that it is possible for businesses to scale up quickly and responsibly. Their culture and core values are embodied in every individual—from senior leadership to rank-and-file employees—and differentiate them from their competitors, priming them to be powerful magnets for top talent.

To determine the 2022 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore.Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry.The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category

 

Methodology

To determine the 2022 Singapore’s Best Workplaces™️, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing close to 70,000 employees across different industries in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™️. 85% of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do.

Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry. The remaining 15% of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry. The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category