How often when you leave your home for the office do you think, "I'm going to have fun today"?

Sad, isn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be that way. My company has won Best Place to Work in Houston, and I think a big part of it is that we know how to have fun on the job. And why not? Everyone is happier and more productive when they have fun together.

And what some leaders don’t understand is that when people are not having fun, they’re tense. Then as a result of the paralysis, they can’t make decisions—and studies have shown that when you’re paralyzed, you’re incapable of being creative.

Here are 11 ideas we’ve used at I’m sure you can add dozens to the list:

  1. Have a “decorate your area” contest. Give each employee a nominal decorating allowance and challenge each employee to decorate on a theme. Or encourage departments to develop an overall theme: Our customer-service department hangs extreme sports equipment from the ceiling—reminding us all that we go to extremes for our customers. Our accounting department chose a pirate theme, since they’re always looking for buried treasure.
  2. Use color to brighten your office space. Paint is cheap—and cheery.
  3. Hang movie posters on your walls, with employees’ faces replacing those of the real movie stars. It can be a great motivator!
  4. Celebrate holidays with parties: a Mardi Gras krewe parade through the office, a cookout on the premises, a carnival.
  5. Celebrate success with dessert or other food. Most of us think eating together is fun! Not to mention the appeal of free food. Or just ring a bell!
  6. Have silly dress-up days: Halloween, Super Bowl, “My favorite college” Day, “Bring your pet/kids/parents to work” Day.
  7. Smile. When you, as the leader, are in a bad mood, everyone is in a bad mood. (“When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”) Be happy.
  8. Put games in the break room or lunchroom. I just moved my ping-pong table to the office. Set up a chess set for a continuing game. Buy a Wii to encourage exercise.
  9. Invite your employees dance and sing, and then create a video, such as our Michael Jackson Tribute, or this incredible lip dub.
  10. Hire a photographer to roam your office one day and make a slideshow of the resulting photos. Display it in your reception area or lunchroom.
  11. Create fun garb. Our IT Department has begun a major initiative that will help propel our growth significantly faster. The project is referred to as Autobahn. Everyone on the team has a personalized racing mechanic uniform.

Dale Carnegie said, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”

So the road to success is paved with fun. Who knew?

What do you do to make your company fun?