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A healthy, happy workplace can revive flagging creativity and productivity and inoculate against such stress-induced maladies as colds, back pain and migraine headaches. With more and more employees working more than 41 hours a week, some companies are devoting more time to making the workplace a little more fun.
As companies and employees discover the value of camaraderie, the workplace is turning into a community where potlucks, book clubs and birthday parties are all in a day's work.
And there's always room for a little more joy on the job. Take a look at the tips below to make your office a more cheerful place to work. Keep in mind, though, that every organization has its own unwritten code of conduct. Make sure you don't overstep any boundaries -- you might want to run your party plans past a supervisor.
Organize lunch-and-learns. Are you a Toastmaster? Do you have a green thumb? Book a conference room and invite your colleagues to learn a new skill. One Vancouver secretary taught her bosses how to make holly wreaths.
Arrange potluck lunches. Bring in food associated with a certain nationality or holiday. Have a dessert-only day.
Hold theme days. Bring your best baby picture to post on the lunchroom bulletin board; come dressed as your favourite coworker; wear crazy hats.
Turn Casual Friday into a fund-raising event. Each casually dressed employee gives a loonie to be donated to a charity of the group's choice -- maybe the local hospital or a women's shelter. You can even sponsor a child overseas and have the group take turns writing to the sponsored family, then you can post pictures and letters on the bulletin board.
Tap into Internet joke banks. One of the best is the Workplace Humor Page. Be discriminating about who you add to your circulation list. One offensive joke could mar your professional reputation.
Organize teams for fun runs. Recruit a seasoned runner to lead lunchtime or after-work training sessions.
Celebrate important events. Mark birthdays and other occasions on a calendar for all to see. Have a lunch-hour baby shower; send a new employee flowers on her first day; take turns bringing in birthday cakes.
Organize baking exchanges for the holidays. Gather names via e-mail or a bulletin board posting and have everyone bring in a dozen cookies for each participant.
Attend theatrical events together. Put up a poster explaining the time, place and type of event and collect names via e-mail or a sign-up sheet. You can often get substantial discounts for buying blocks of tickets.