Why Successful Project Teams Have Fun (And How To Do It)

Making time for your project team to have fun might seem like it’s taking you away from the important elements of project delivery.

But the power of taking the time and making the effort to implement fun into your project can significantly improve the performance of your project team. It creates the opportunity to boost team morale, improve team member empathy and increase effective communication.

And you don’t have to search far in Google to find plenty of statistics that show increased engagement, morale, communication and empathy lead to better productivity and employee retention.

Here’s the thing – the idea of having fun seems to be thrown around quite a bit. It has become one of those things you need to check off on your project list without a great deal of real thought for why it’s being done.

In this article, we’re going to look at why having fun is an essential part of building a successful project team, what having fun on a project team actually means and how you can succeed at having fun on your projects.

Why having fun is so important for your project team

We always hear people say that having fun at work is important for increasing productivity and positive performance. But is it really true?

Here are some stats that confirm the answer to this question is a resounding YES!

90% of Highly Engaged employees say they work on a fun team

– Latice research

Among working groups, cheerfulness and warmth spread most easily, while irritability is less contagious

– Yale University School of Management study

Research has shown that happy people tend to be healthier, more inspired, productive and satisfied in their job

– Social Marketing Foundation report

A study into the energising effect of humour found that people who were exposed to humour were more persistent and better able to complete tasks

– Journal of Business and Psychology article

Do your own Google search and you’ll find plenty more evidence that being able to have fun together, as a project team, makes a huge contribution to improving productivity and performance.

Put simply, fun is contagious

Let’s be honest. Instinctively, you didn’t really need a report to tell you this, did you?

We all know, if we’re having fun, we feel more energised, we’re more switched on, and we’re more motivated to contribute and do great things. In short, we care more!

And the thing is, when people in the team are having fun, it is contagious!

It’s just like when someone does a belly laugh. Before you know it, it sets off a chain reaction.

What does having fun at work really mean?

Having fun in the workplace is allowing people to feel happy, free to laugh, have a sense of enjoyment to lose themselves in a moment where they can drop their guard.

It creates an environment which extends beyond just the work.

And even if the theme of the fun is related to the work, members of your team will shift from feeling like a ‘resource’ to being seen as a unique individual who is relatable – even if they all have different areas of expertise.

These connections play a big part in developing empathy, relatability, and friendship.

Most importantly the connections created by having fun together create a natural desire to want to support each other in that moment, and this desire extends into the work. 

Put simply, when people are having fun, they are communicating. They are bonding. They are developing relationships. They are discovering commonalities.

They are building trust.

On the flip side of this, when people in your team are not having fun, it is much harder to encourage them to open up and contribute.

How to succeed at creating fun on your project team

#1 Engage your whole team in creating the fun

It’s important that the whole team is involved in creating fun.

I’ve seen many instances where one person in the team realises the importance of having fun and organises some things they love to do, without consideration for what the rest of the team might love to do.

This creates a situation where team members experience “forced fun”. This is a term used when the team feel that they must contribute to the prescribed activity but would prefer not to be there.

Make sure everyone’s ways of having fun have been considered.

#2 Give the team a reason to want to participate

When teams don’t see the value in taking time out and spending social time together, they’re not likely to want to participate.

The primary driver for encouraging participation is a strong team culture.

If your team have developed a strong culture, they’re likely to have more empathy for each other, and more likely to want to have fun together to further strengthen that culture.

#3 Make sure you’ve got a Fun Budget

I see a lot of project teams not get started with having fun because they don’t have a budget to invest in social activities.

We’ve already explored the positive impact fun can have on productivity. When it can contribute in such a strong way to your bottom line, you need to view fun as an investment in project success and invest in it financially too.

#4 Don’t use team fun to solve existing team issues

Having fun together is NOT a band aid fix for overcoming existing team issues.

If this is the driver for you to organise more fun activities for your team, then it’s really best you hold off until you’ve solved the outstanding issues or you’ll run the risk of losing the team’s trust (and even find that they don’t turn up for the fun activity at all).

Existing team issues should be dealt with completely separately, and before you attempt to inject social activities into your team.

#5 Make team fun accessible

The workplace is changing, and so are the structure of teams. You need to consider how to make the fun you’re creating accessible to all your team members.

Scheduling lots of fun activities outside work hours, or in locations that are hard for members of your team to get to all reduce accessibility.

Consider the needs of your whole team so that everyone can get involved (and refer to #1 when solving this problem).

Fun is an essential element of project success

Engage your whole team in creating it, have a budget to support it, make it accessible and don’t use it to try and patch up underlying team problems and you’ll find that fun will create a positive impact on the success of your project.

Would a Team Chemistry Workshop help your project team?

If you are interested in discovering more ways of connecting to your project team, a Team Chemistry Workshop is a way to do just that.

Book a discovery call with me to explore the possibilities.

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