Why Having Fun at Work Matters

Examining the link between work, play and how companies find balance for employees.

Employees at CSL Behring in King of Prussia Pennsylvania
Employees at CSL Behring in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania take a few minutes out of their day to visit an ice cream truck parked outside their office. The visit was coordinated by a group of employees charged with bringing events and activities to the company’s campus.

Centuries ago, Greek philosopher Plato said, “You learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Much more recently, multiple studies have been published that show the important role “fun” plays in the workplace. Authors Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher called it “The Levity Effect” in their
2008 book of the same name. Other findings stress the growing importance of fun on the job as millennials continue to affect workplace culture. One study from BrightHR and psychologist Cary Cooper showed that millennials who have fun in the workplace take fewer sick days, work harder and are more productive.

Employers, including CSL Behring in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, are responding to this challenge. In fact, the King of Prussia site even has an “Employee Fun Committee,” which meets regularly to plan activities for employees, such as on-site happy hours, outdoor games and movie and book clubs that meet once a month over lunch time.

“We organize events for CSL Behring employees to boost engagement and interaction on-site,” explained Kelsey Kern, who works for the company’s cardiovascular team and also heads the site’s Fun Committee. She said the primary goal of the committee is to offer events that allow employees to meet one another outside the stresses of daily work. 

“Other times we are simply looking to offer a break from the work day with events such as ice cream trucks and lunchtime happenings. For example during the Winter Olympics we screened the games and offered a hot chocolate bar and seasoned popcorn,” Kelsey said.

Activities also include family events such as trips to watch local sports teams and on-site outdoor movie nights. “We hope these events allow employees to share our CSL Behring community with their children, spouses and friends,” Kelsey said.

These activities get full support from CSL Behring leadership. Karen Etchberger, Executive Vice President Quality and Business Services and site head of CSL Behring, King of Prussia, said that she and other leaders are interested in building a culture where employees enjoy coming to work and enjoy the people they work with, and these events help to build that type of culture. “Plus, who doesn’t like having fun?” she said.

King of Prussia isn’t the only CSL site that puts an emphasis on employee-focused activities.

  • For more than a decade, CSL Behring employees in Marburg, Germany and Bern, Switzerland have faced off against one another in a friendly, annual game of ice hockey. This year, 21 colleagues representing the Marburg Lions traveled to meet the Bern Bears and share a post-game dinner.

  • Like the King of Prussia site, CSL Behring’s site in Kankakee, Illinois also has a Fun Committee that organizes events and activities for employees both on- and off-site.

  • CSL employees in Parkville, Australia have a “Social Club” that organizes events such as lawn sports nights, barbecues and happy hours.

  • At CSL Plasma’s corporate offices in Boca Raton, Florida, employees recently sampled food trucks brought on site to provide free lunch.

In addition, sometimes employees at CSL Behring sites have fun giving back to their communities, which also has benefits to both the business and the community.

As a member of the millennial generation cited in the BrightHR study, Kelsey believes that the work she is doing is helping to contribute to the future of the company. After all, that same study notes millennials are expected to comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, so businesses that ignore their motivations do so at their own peril. “In the end, life is about balance,” Kelsey said. “We really have to find that sweet spot where we can indulge our human-side while also being productive toward our common goals of making better products to improve the lives of our patients.”