The Power of Fun in Events

 

We all like to have fun. But what is fun? The dictionary defines fun as “that which provides amusement or enjoyment.” Of course, fun can mean different things to different people. One thing is certain, and that is FUN is the antidote to stress.

“PEOPLE RARELY SUCCEED UNLESS THEY HAVE FUN IN WHAT THEY ARE DOING” – Dale Carnegie

Work can be difficult and stressful. After all, work requires dedicated focus on the role, task, goal, agenda, and outcome of a project. Special events allow you to step away from the everyday grind. So, when planning an event, think of fun as the ingredient that allows the people who are a large part of your everyday environment to gather in a relaxed, non-stressful setting.

Most corporate or business events are tightly structured: early breakfast followed by workshops, coffee break followed by more workshops, keynote speakers and plenaries, usually ending with an awards banquet or other formal dinner. So, what happens if you shake it up? Change the schedule. Give everyone room to flex their social and emotional muscles?

At a recent corporate event, we moved the official awards to the luncheon, leaving the evening free for an entirely social experience, free from speeches, presentations and any formalities. It was pure fun with music, décor, activities, food, beverage and entertainment. All the serious stuff was taken care of during the day’s activities and now people could let their hair down, mix and mingle and have an enjoyable and memorable evening. The result was happy employees who commended their bosses for forgetting the formula and, instead, bringing in the fun. And, by the way, the bosses enjoyed getting to know their staff in a loose, informal setting. It was a win/win for all.

So, let’s take a look at the benefits of “fun.” Having fun effectively improves employees’ emotions, promotes teamwork, and builds trusting relationships and increases employee productivity and retention.

Leaders who are ‘unscripted’ or ‘unconventional’ push the traditional perception of how business is done today. Embracing the need to add fun and well-suited humour to the workplace will drive employee engagement, creativity and encourages top employees to stay with the company longer. What this does in turn, is build loyalty from their employees and customers. Dedicated, happy and engaged employees become brand ambassadors. End result is business growth.

As planners and event managers our view tends to be distanced. We aren’t participants or team leaders. Our job is to manage the process and details and then step back and watch the results unspool. Afterwards, we provide feedback. And, in that capacity, we can attest to the difference that fun can bring to an event and, in reverse, the fallout when it isn’t there.

“WHERE PEOPLE AREN’T HAVING ANY FUN, THEY SELDOM PRODUCE GOOD WORK” – David Ogilvy

So, what constitutes fun? That depends on the type of event, the attendees’ interests, and the group’s sensibilities, and the budget. When you gather your most valuable assets – people – and have their captive attention you have the chance to punctuate purpose with enjoyment and reap the benefits. What kind of event are you planning? Is it a destination event? Or are you in your city at an interesting venue, such as an art gallery or museum? Can you integrate the event into the venue’s resources? Or are you in a hotel or convention centre where you must rely on your imagination to enhance the environment? Who is your audience? Do you want to stick to a theme or shake it up with something entirely different? We have helped clients answer these questions and have designed some amazing fun experiences that stimulate the senses and create fun memories with colleagues.

Studies over the last two decades have shown that when workplaces incorporate fun into their programs, employees are happier and more satisfied. Happy employees are overall more productive employees.

Workplace fun has been linked to:

  • Enhanced motivation
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced stress
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Improved task performance
  • Sense of community
  • Post pandemic recharging
  • Meeting new team members
  • General wellbeing and overall improved mental health.

Do fun and business mix? Think back to school, where your teachers found creative ways to help you learn. Employees at these events are students. Mix some honey into the drier business subjects and they will respond with increased productivity, commitment, improved focus, and dedication. A relaxed atmosphere builds better work relationships and fosters deeper loyalty. Infusing freedom, unstructured time, non-judgemental enjoyment as a priority in a business event or gathering is great strategy. It shows employees that management recognizes and values their health and wellbeing.

Making time for fun throughout a business event not only serves to connect and reinforce team dynamics, it places immeasurable value on the human component of work. And, it is also good business! Fun (and any stress-busting elements) has a direct ROI for the business. That is why not utilizing this potential is like leaving money on the table.

You don’t need to be elaborate. Sometimes a small touch can speak volumes. And when you want to go big, do it in style. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Imagination is free. Use yours and achieve optimum results that speak well of your professionalism and capability as an event planner.

For your next event, tap into your inner child. Sit down with your client/team and plan an event that will generate joy and bring smiles and thanks from event attendees. Your business will reap the benefits. Never underestimate the power of fun to make a difference.

 

 

Debbie Arato, CSEP, is partner and experience design strategist at Experiential Experts Inc.

 

 

 

 

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