4 Companies Infusing Fun And Connection Into The Workplace

These companies are committed to crafting enjoyable, inclusive cultures.
Written by Olivia Arnold
April 12, 2023Updated: April 12, 2023

When dreaming up fun things to do this week, you may consider seeing a movie, catching a local sports game or meeting friends at your favorite restaurant. You likely aren’t thinking about work.

Experts are increasingly finding, however, that it’s just as important to offer opportunities for fun and connection in the workplace.  

Beyond simply evoking joy and developing friendships, workplace fun has positive impacts on employees’ professional performance. Bob Nelson, author of “Work Made Fun Gets Done! Easy Ways to Boost Energy, Morale and Results,” states that organizational fun increases employees’ engagement, creativity, purpose and retention. 

The four companies featured below are deeply committed to crafting enjoyable, inclusive cultures. This priority is a smart one, as a recent TeamStage report found that company culture is an important factor for 46 percent of job seekers. 

In addition to hosting traditional team lunches and happy hours, these teams take it a step further, organizing exciting events such as Prizeout’s brownie bake-offs, 3Z Brands’s group workout classes and FireHydrant’s remote cooking lessons. Other initiatives are meant to foster belonging through meaningful collective experiences with group volunteer opportunities, remote wellness activities, safe-space discussions in Smartly.io’s employee resource groups and more. 

Built In New York connected with team members at Prizeout, Smartly.io, FireHydrant and 3Z Brands to learn more about how their employees have shaped cultures that stand out from the rest.

 

Jaycee Schwarz
Talent Acquisition Specialist • Prizeout

Prizeout is an advertising technology company that offers payments, rewards and loyalty solutions. 

 

How is Prizeout’s culture different from what you've experienced at previous companies?

Prizeout has provided me with the opportunity to truly enjoy my job. Not only do I enjoy the work we do, but I also really appreciate the people I get to work with. Like many others, I have worked for companies that do not always seem to value team culture and socialization. Due to these experiences, company culture and values were more important to me than anything else when I was looking for new opportunities.  

Within just a few hours of stepping into the office on my first day, I met and had lunch with people working across multiple departments. Later, I was given an onboarding buddy, allowing me to check in and ask one-on-one questions with someone I trusted. From office lunches and happy hours to flag football, bake-offs and shuffleboard, there are endless opportunities to interact with everyone in the company, regardless of their position or seniority.

At Prizeout, you are given every opportunity to get to know your coworkers. It makes collaboration, brainstorming and execution that much more effective. For us, it's not just about the success of the company; it's about the success of our coworkers, as well.

 

From office lunches and happy hours to flag football, bake-offs and shuffleboard, there are endless opportunities to interact with everyone in the company, regardless of their position or seniority.”

 

How are employees empowered to help shape the company culture? 

Employees are empowered to help shape the office culture in both small and large ways. Part of my role is to shape the employee experience. When planning each month, I talk to my colleagues and gain insight into what they want to see. Whether it's making sure that we have snacks and drinks or planning a Dave & Buster’s happy hour and game night, steps are taken to ensure that everyone is included.

For example, we have brownie bake-offs and chips and dip competitions during which team members bring their homemade creations for everyone to try. During warmer weather, we have annual field days and flag football games. These are really fun days, even for those who aren't usually into athletics.

Recently, we implemented a peer recognition program, which is a new way to recognize an employee who exemplified our company values over the previous quarter. Each quarter, the winner gets a prize and is recognized during the all-hands meeting.

While we all support each other, we also love a little friendly competition. Our office is home to a shuffleboard table, basketball goal, mini-golf and cornhole. Everyone’s welcome to play, and new people join all the time.

 

Serena Gencler
Sales Development Manager, North America • Smartly

Smartly.io’s platform automates digital advertising by combining media buying, creativity and data. 

 

How is Smartly.io’s culture different from what you've experienced at previous companies?

From the moment I joined Smartly, I was impressed by its unique company culture. My experience working for a company with employees of more than 60 nationalities has been very positive, and I felt very welcome during my first few months in the United States after moving from Turkey. It is evident that every aspect of the business is driven by a fast-paced, collaborative and inclusive environment built on trust, transparency and feedback.

It’s refreshing to see that Smartly.io values these qualities every single day and provides employees with regular engagement surveys where they can share their opinions. If you are looking for an organization that is forward-thinking and inclusive, I highly recommend being a part of Smartly.

 

This weekly gathering provides an opportunity for employees to bond and connect in a relaxed and informal setting, which I believe is crucial for building strong relationships within cross-functional teams.”

 

How are employees empowered to help shape the company culture? 

“United Thursdays” is one of my favorite initiatives, which is when all of the global teams enjoy lunch together from the office. This weekly gathering provides an opportunity for employees to bond and connect in a relaxed and informal setting, which I believe is crucial for building strong relationships within cross-functional teams. Not only does it encourage a sense of community within the workplace, but it also ensures that everyone feels valued and included.

Additionally, I am thrilled to see that the company has recently started employee resource groups. These groups are designed to provide a safe and supportive space for employees to find their voices and feel included, regardless of their background or identity. I think this is a fantastic initiative, and I am delighted to see that the company is committed to creating a workplace where everyone feels comfortable and supported.

 

 

Ylan Muller
Senior IT Manager • FireHydrant

FireHydrant operates a reliability platform for complex incident management.

 

How is FireHydrant’s culture different from what you've experienced at previous companies?

Getting buy-in on organizational change can be challenging, but FireHydrant does it well. All employees, including leadership, are open to new ways of thinking about problems, fresh solutions and ideas, and are willing to experiment and move quickly to see what works. 

The philosophy that “nothing is sacred” is very much lived here, which allows employees to develop their own visions for how they want to handle their parts of the business, and they are invited to bring those to the table for consideration. This allows each individual contributor to have a large impact and stretch parts of their thinking that they may not have at a company where you are a cog in a machine. You will find many employees at FireHydrant voluntarily take on projects outside of their job description for their personal development and betterment of the company. 

This only works when you have everyone on board with continuously improving; it certainly helps that it's one of our core values, and it’s one of my favorites.

 

We’ve been lucky enough to have employees lead remote wellness activities, cooking classes and more.”

 

How are employees empowered to help shape the company culture? 

As a fully remote company, we have had to build community in more novel ways. All employees are welcome to participate in one of our many Slack channels, where we have many team members eagerly sharing knowledge thanks to our people team. We’ve been lucky enough to have employees lead remote wellness activities, cooking classes and more. 

Employees who are local to each other are also encouraged to organize and meet up for facetime, which we recognize is an important component of fostering relationships.

 

 

 

Aubrey Freckman
Director of Public Relations • 3Z Brands

3Z Brands is a direct-to-consumer brand and manufacturer for sleep products. 

 

How is 3Z Brands’s culture different from what you've experienced at previous companies?

The culture at 3Z brands is one of inclusivity, transparency and trust. Hard work is recognized and wins are celebrated.

 

There are also employee-created groups, including book clubs, happy hours, workout classes, language courses and Slack channels dedicated to sharing dog photos.”

 

How are employees empowered to help shape the company culture? 

Employees are empowered to shape and participate in office culture in several ways. One way is through volunteer opportunities. At 3Z, we love to give back to the community, and we are always providing fun ways to support local philanthropic organizations.  

There are also employee-created groups, including book clubs, happy hours, workout classes, language courses and Slack channels dedicated to sharing dog photos.

 

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