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When we start our companies, we are generally full of enthusiasm and optimism. This attitude often brings with it a desire to make great workplaces for our employees. But too soon, project deadlines, customer issues and overdue bills steal our initial excitement and our workplaces become full of stress and drudgery.

But what if we could bring just a little bit of fun back into the workplace? And just how do we make this happen as business owners or managers?

It is so very easy to just do the bare minimum day in and day out. We are so busy doing the things that have to be done that we do not always make the time to add a bit of fun to the day.

However, it’s both easy and inexpensive to add a little bit of fun to your company on a regular basis. And you don’t need a huge team to pull these off. I work with one of our administrative assistants to organize these activities.

Easy, inexpensive ways.

1. Celebrate birthdays. In our company, we have a wonderful administrative assistant who will make the employee’s favorite baked good on their birthday and bring it in to share with everyone.

But if you don’t have a baker in your company, you can celebrate birthdays a number of ways: a handwritten card expressing your appreciation, an Amazon or restaurant gift card, a free hour off at the end of the day. Think outside the box to make your employees’ birthdays just a bit special and something for them to look forward to.

“Don’t let another season pass by without adding a few pleasant surprises to break up the daily grind of work days.” Leslie Allebach, vice president of The Greenskeeper

2. Feed your employees. You can fill a big cooler with ice-cold sodas, water and Gatorade, and have it in your shop at the end of a long, hard day. We don’t do this every day, just on the really hot ones. Or surprise your employees and buy them lunch, ice cream or slushies on occasion.

3. Text them a thank you for their hard work once in a while. Because let’s be honest – isn’t it so much more fun to work at a place where you feel you are appreciated than one where you don’t?

4. Celebrate fun and little-known holidays. This idea is from a friend of mine. He owns an accounting firm and he has staff that finds fun days to celebrate, such as National Donut Day or National Ice Cream Month. There is even a National Mustard Day, which naturally leads to free hot dogs.

5. Create some trivia games and give a nice prize to the winner. They can be about your own company (how many customers, which employee is the oldest, etc.) or they can be about anything else. It just adds a fun dynamic.

6. Put together little goodie bags for your employees. Gather a few items and give it to them just for fun. Anything from candy to note pads and work-related items will do the trick.


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Bigger ways.

1. Have a company picnic. This takes some effort, but it is a wonderful way to bring everyone together to just have fun. You can do this successfully in many ways and how you go about it will depend a lot on the size of your company. You can grill burgers in your own backyard or you can rent a park pavilion and hire a caterer. Be sure to have some fun games and activities planned, no matter how you choose to go about it. We have it on a Saturday evening and families are invited.

2. Surprise them with items that have the company logo. We tend to do this at Christmas, although recently I have been thinking it might be fun to do this when they aren’t expecting it. A few of the items we have gotten for our employees over the years include flashlights, blankets, coats, pocketknives and drawstring bags. There is a really great variety of items available and it can be as inexpensive (think pens or balls) or expensive (think Yeti water bottle or Under Armor jacket) as you want it to be.


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3. Do something special for Christmas. Have a company breakfast or dinner or just gather everyone together at the end of the day to hand out special gifts. We take our guys to a famous smorgasbord about 45 minutes away. We do holiday bonuses, which we hand out at the breakfast.

I hope that this gives you some ideas on how to bring a little bit of fun back into your company. Don’t let another season pass by without adding a few pleasant surprises to break up the daily grind of work days.

The author is vice president of The Greenskeeper, a landscape firm based in Pennsylvania.