Injecting Fun into Your Business Culture: A Lesson from Zappos

Online retailer and Amazon subsidiary Zappos practices random acts of fun and weirdness, demonstrating that workplace play can significantly boost creativity, productivity, and employee morale. In the spirit of that fun, and based on my book about them (The Zappos Experience), I created a short animated clip on “work made fun – gets done.

For the purposes of this post, here are actionable strategies for you to infuse Zappos’ spirit of fun into your culture.

  1. Embrace Playfulness in Daily Operations: Integrate fun and playful elements into everyday tasks and interactions. This could range from themed dress-up days to gamifying mundane tasks to boost engagement and creativity.
  2. Celebrate Random Acts of Fun: Encourage your team to initiate spontaneous fun activities. Whether it’s a surprise team lunch, impromptu games, or a funny hat day, these random acts can significantly lift spirits and strengthen team bonds.
  3. Foster a Culture of Innovation through Fun: Recognize that innovation often springs from relaxed and casual interactions. Create spaces or occasions where employees from different departments can mingle and share ideas in a playful setting, like team-building events outside the office.
  4. Invest in Team Solidarity: Use brief bursts of workplace fun as an inexpensive way to enhance team alignment and solidarity. Short, playful breaks can increase overall productivity and cohesiveness.
  5. Integrate Fun into Routine and Necessary Tasks: Even the most mundane or necessary activities, like evacuation drills, can incorporate elements of fun. This approach increases participation and retention of important information, all while making the process more enjoyable.
  6. Measure the Return on Fun: Adopt Zappos’ mindset of “Return On Fun Lasts” (R.O.F.L) by recognizing the tangible benefits of investing in workplace fun. Track improvements in team morale, productivity, and employee retention as indicators of your investment’s success.
  7. Create Moments of Unexpected Delight: Look for opportunities to deliver unexpected moments of joy to both employees and customers. This not only creates brand evangelists but also fosters a work environment where employees feel excited and valued.

Implementing These Strategies:

By adopting these strategies, you will cultivate a workplace that mirrors Zappos’ celebrated culture. The goal is to create an environment where fun and work are not mutually exclusive but are intertwined to enhance creativity, productivity, and employee satisfaction. This approach will benefit your team and elevate your brand in the eyes of your customers, making your business rich with surprise and delight.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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