Between pool tables, kegerators and indoor putting greens, today’s most envious offices look more like adult playgrounds than places of business.

Hip young companies like Google and Red Bull have shifted away from the gray, fluorescent-lit workplaces of old, adding a dose of fun to the office that results in more creative and committed employees.

While we all can’t have a three-story slide or an unlimited supply of candy in the office, any company can tweak its operations to lift morale, increase employee engagement and create a stronger sense of community.

Here are some tips for improving your company culture.

  1. Feeding time: If you’ve ever brought a box of fresh doughnuts to the office on a Monday morning, you know how food can improve your team’s mood. Well-fed employees are happy employees, which is why companies like Warby Parker and Foursquare provide regular catered lunches. Other companies offer snack rooms, juice bars and visits from food trucks. Even something as simple as a monthly pizza party or a weekly bagel delivery will give your team something tasty to look forward to.
  2. Happy hour: Companies like AOL and Eventbrite have instituted regular in-office happy hours, inviting employees to grab a beer or two from a keg or beer cart while they finish out their workday. Some companies even offer an unlimited supply of adult beverages, showing their employees that they trust them not to abuse the privilege. Similarly, off-site happy hour gatherings give co-workers a chance to bond while blowing off some steam.
  3. Play time: Pool tables and basketball hoops may seem like distractions, but some companies have recognized their usefulness as creativity boosters. Brainstorming sessions take on a new level of excitement over a competitive game of ping-pong, and workers who find themselves stuck on a project often benefit from a few minutes away from their desk at play. These activities also encourage employees to stick around and socialize with coworkers after 5 p.m., rather than sprint out the door.
  4. Stress relief: All companies have those extra-stressful deadline days when everyone feels like biting each other’s heads off. Book a couple of masseuses to come to the office and work out people’s kinks in the conference room, and watch the stress melt away. Some employers even offer yoga classes and guided meditation.
  5. Animal house: Allergies notwithstanding, animals generally make people happy, and having a dog-friendly workplace has been linked to increased productivity and happier workers. Open the office to furry friends every day or just once a month, and see how the mood in the office shifts when a pooch or two is pawing around. Bonus: Pet owners can save money on dog-walking and dog-sitting services, and they’re not as rushed to leave the office when they know that Fido isn’t waiting home alone.
  6. Sunshine time: Remember in school when your teacher would take the class outside for the day? Sending your employees to go work outside for an hour or two on sunny days can have a similarly restorative, uplifting effect.
  7. Work outings: Whether you rent a box at the local baseball game or host a team-building bowling night, work outings are a fun way for employees to bond while building morale. Put together a “fun committee” that will be in charge of collecting ideas from coworkers and organizing events.
  8. Playing dress-up: Did you think your days of playing dress-up were behind you? Not so at some fun-loving companies that invite employees to participate in regular theme days; recent events at REI have included Worst Tie Day and Christmas in July. Bring out your team’s competitive spirit by offering rewards to the best-dressed employee or department.
  9. Reward programs: Speaking of rewards, they’re just one more way to encourage employees to work hard and achieve their goals. Reward outstanding workers with the opportunity to leave work early, or take them out for a long lunch.

Clearly, there are plenty of ways to create a more fun office environment, but the best approach is to consider what makes your company unique, and work from there. Having a happy workplace will help you attract – and keep – top talent. Ultimately, this will make your company stronger.

What are some changes you would make to increase the fun factor in your office? Share your ideas in the comments!

Author: Diana Gomez is the Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America, where she is instrumental in the implementation of marketing and social media strategies for USA and Canada. Follow them at @Lyoness_EU.

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