New Delhi: It’s Friday evening and employees of Aricent are jiving to popular numbers mixed by a disc jockey. It’s a full house with food, beverages and music on demand. Curiously, the venue is not a discotheque or a lounge bar but the communication software company’s office premise.
At Google India Pvt Ltd, every Friday afternoon the staff gets together at their cafeteria for an hour where they are treated to special food and good music. Called Thank Goodness It’s Friday, it’s a much awaited hour for Googlers. Technology public relations firm Text 100 India Pvt Ltd hosts Freaky Fridays once a month where employees play indoor games such as dumb charades, antakshari or be a part of outdoor activities such as cricket or movies.
Employees at Coca Cola India Inc. get a hamper comprising Coke goodies every Friday. Also, there’s a special Friday menu on offer at the company’s cafeteria and some Fridays, the HR team facilitates sales counters outside the canteen where employees can buy anything from a candle to a car. Likewise, all fun activities are held on Fridays at healthcare BPO company Ajuba Solutions (India) Pvt Ltd.
After Friday dressing became the norm in corporate India, an increasing number of companies have started earmarking Friday as fun day as part of fun at work initiative. The objective, companies say, is to ensure that employees end their week on a happy note. “An easy or fun-filled Friday ensures that people start their weekend on a lighter note and come back looking forward to their work week,” says Shama Asnani, manager, human resources, KPMG India Pvt Ltd.
The Friday events are serious business with companies allocating time, money and resources to re-energize employees and help them bond together with their colleagues and the organization.
KPMG, for instance, is hiring a music teacher to give its employees lessons in playing guitar on Fridays from December. Aricent, on the other hand, hires a DJ for the Friday bash it throws every quarter. Along with popular music, there is “finger-smacking food and beverages.”
“Our Friday bashes are a big hit with our employees,” says Gauri Arora, director, corporate communication, Aricent. Arora’s team handles the fun at work initiative at Aricent. “We start getting mails from our staff if they don’t hear from us about the Friday DJ-nite,” says Arora.
Many companies have designated people or teams for taking up fun activities. Infosys BPO, for instance, has a chief fun officer to promote fun at work, while NIIT Ltd has fun managers across geographies to ensure that NIITians don’t miss out on fun while working. All Text 100 India offices have a fun officer who selects a specific indoor or outdoor activity that is to be pursued in the month.
A full calendar of events is drawn out in the beginning of the year along with an annual budget set aside for all these activities which can range from parties, bowling, cross-country excursions, online games, festive celebrations to even things like a rose or a cowboy dress day.
Variety is the name of the game since any routine event can diminish the success of these initiatives, say fun officers. “We try to be as creative as possible and do a mix of online and offline activities,” says Arora.
There is an increasing realization among corporates that small and informal celebrations help in breaking the monotony at work and make the atmosphere more relaxed. “It’s very important to break up the normal routine and do something different. No matter what the activity, such elements go a long way in making a big difference,” says Shankar Narasimhan, director, human resources, Ajuba Solutions.
“One measure that indicates that these initiatives have been effective is that the score on fun at work parameter in our employee satisfaction surveys has gone up from 71% to 81% in the past couple of years,” he adds.
Companies feel that such initiatives help in engaging and energizing their workforce, besides, boosting their equity in the employment market. ”There is a direct link between fun and motivation and organizations that manage to connect the two often see better productivity, performance and employment brand,” says A. Sudhakar, executive vice-president, human resources, Dabur India.
In fact, corporates, such as Dabur, Johnson & Johnson Ltd, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, HCL Infosystems Ltd, which have been recognized as good places to work for by various surveys, have had an established fun-at-work culture.
Changing demographics of the workforce and scarce talent supply have also forced traditional companies that have been quite stiff in their work culture to get into the swing to remain attractive as an employer. “FMCG companies, for instance, were not very serious about fun at work in the past but now, it is an integral part of any forward-looking company’s culture,” adds Sudhakar