Workers like beer and ping-pong, but appreciation is more important
Which one of these sounds like more fun: having a beer and playing ping-pong with your friends or someone thanking you for some good work?
You might jump at the beer and ping-pong option, but at work, getting a nice thank-you is a bigger driver of fun.
That’s according to new research on work appreciation from the employee engagement firm TINYpulse. Coworker relationships drive fun at work, according to the research, and workers cement those relationships by recognizing each other’s good work.
TINYpulse makes an app that allows managers to send weekly, one-question surveys to their employees. Bosses use the survey answers to detect workplace problems, which helps them control turnover. TINYpulse dug into its database, which includes data from over 500 companies across 35 countries, and looked for correlations between the question “How valued do you feel at work” and responses to questions like, “How happy are you at work?”
For example, workers who reported high levels of work happiness also reported high levels of recognition at work.
Giving frequent appreciation to workers yields many benefits, TINYpulse found: bosses get higher ratings the more thanks they give, and appreciated workers are more willing to speak positively in public about their employer. Although, only 21 percent of workers say they feel “strongly valued” at work.
The finding on workplace fun was particularly notable because many companies, particularly tech startups, use irreverent perks to spruce up the office. Benefits like yoga classes, weekly happy hours, and even puppy hours abound, but the TINYpulse research indicates that those perks are moot if employees don’t appreciate each other.
Drilling into the data, TINYpulse found a link between how often workers received recognition and those who described work as “fun.” Seventy percent of workers said their peers were the reason why work is fun, while 22 percent said that the nature of their work increased the fun.
Just 8 percent of workers said that “perks” – ping-pong and beer, for example – make work fun.
Workplace fun is not just for plucky startups. In a recent study by Badgeville, a leader in business gamification, 90 percent of workers across all industries said that a fun workplace is a strong motivator. For companies looking to increase employee engagement, a fun workplace is essential, which means appreciation is essential, too.
If you would still opt for beer and ping-pong as the more fun option, take a lesson from Gary Levine, CEO of digital marketing agency Return on Digital. His company has combined appreciation and libations into a game called “cheers for beers.” Using a built-in TINYpulse feature, Levine’s workers send each other digital thank-you notes called “cheers.” Any member of his team who gets a “cheers” in a given week gets a beer after work on Friday.
“We really want to create an atmosphere where everyone is working together as a big team, all embracing our core values,” Levine said. “’Cheers for beers’ gives us an opportunity to share our wins each week and adds a level of gamification, which makes it fun!”