We at Arkadin have always believed in the importance of working hard and playing hard. It’s part of what unites our teams and what spurs them to excel, both when working and when playing.
Interestingly, although the “work hard, play hard” concept can be traced back to at least 1827, it was only recently that any statistical link between the two had been quantified. In 2015, Professor Lonnie Aarssen, a biologist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and his student Laura Crimi, decided to test the “work hard, play hard” hypothesis.
Their study, published in The Open Psychology Journal, surveyed almost 1400 undergraduates at Queen’s University. Questions were asked to measure each student’s attitude toward several aspects of life: queries related to work included whether it’s important to get the highest grades and have a prestigious job, for example, whereas questions about play asked whether sports and watching movies are important to happiness.
Answers and scores were then combined into six measures: attractions to religion, parenthood, accomplishment, leisure, mortality (understanding death) and negative mood. Although the data revealed several connections between the measures, one relationship stood out: a strong correlation between an attraction to accomplishment and an attraction to leisure.
“People who work hard really do play hard,” says Aarssen. His results show that almost 40% of the data is explained by the link between accomplishment and leisure.
“Work hard, play hard” companies are more successful
It’s obvious that organizations with higher employee engagement levels are more likely to see an increase in profit and productivity than those with lower engagement.
Whether it’s dressing up for Halloween, going bowling or sharing happy hours, company activities and outings help teams communicate better. They help employees gain a better knowledge of one another, while building better professional and personal networks.
These “play” activities allow employees a chance to see what goes on in other departments of the workplace and enable them to feel more comfortable speaking to people whom they might not normally approach – such as top management.
Not only do these events foster improved communication; they can also contribute to greater productivity, satisfaction, loyalty and employee retention.
The health benefits of a “work hard, play hard” culture
A recent article in Fast Company stated: “Surprisingly, strong social connections at work can even strengthen our immune systems and decrease levels of inflammation, in part because feeling socially connected decreases activity in genes coding for inflammation and thus helps us fend off inflammatory diseases like heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.”
Many of today’s jobs are highly demanding. Often, employees are required to deliver results within very short deadlines. Performance monitoring can make them feel even more pressure to deliver. By encouraging workers to take part in a pleasurable activity, you’re effectively providing them with a valuable rest from stress, which enables them to return to their task with renewed energy afterwards.
Incorporating fun activities into the workday can go a long way toward creating a happy and healthy work life. They are well-deserved rewards for the people who are your most valuable assets: your hard-working employees.