The quality of your employees is intricately connected to the overall potential of your company. While work-life balance along with various workplace perks and topics such as helping employee caregivers is coming more into the forefront, there's still much work to be done.

A big issue with a bulls-eye on it is optimizing the actual workplace. After all, people are spending more and more time in the workplace.

One company that I've noticed who are doing things a little different concerning the workplace is Anytime Fitness. Operating over 4,500 franchised locations in 50 countries, being recognized as a top franchise for minorities, and being multiple recipients of "The Best Place to Work in Minnesota"--I was curious to learn more about Anytime Fitness core success elements when I talked with co-Founder and CEO Chuck Runyon.

To the outside eye, I, along with many others would likely categorize Anytime Fitness as a fitness business. However, to Runyon, they're simply a people business.

This slight, but important shift permeates into how you then view the workplace. Runyon states that there are "four P's to building a high performing work culture. These are your people, purpose, profits, and play."

Runyon, after speaking with numerous leaders over the years has found that workplace play has been the hardest (and most forgotten) element to optimizing the workplace.

To create more play into your work culture, here are the four types that Runyon recommends.

1. Productivity Play

Every leader strives for their employees to be creative and forward-thinking. But how can you actually foster this out of them?

One thing that Runyon mentioned to me is the "what if" game.

Everyone is empowered to use a post-it note and write "what if [insert whatever thing]" onto the board. There are no titles in the room, everyone is on a level playing field and encouraged to participate because everyone is coming at the situation from a unique angle. 

This creates curiosity and innovation.

By creating a judgment-free space, you're creating a space for richer communication due to employees being more comfortable. 

2. Team Building Play

When playing basketball, each year's team I was on would grow closer when away from their natural setting.

The same principle applies to a company. To hasten connections along with fostering team growth, find activities to do away from the office.

A few activities that Runyon recommended was off-site parties, volunteering, or charity events. 

3. Sense of Humor Play

As a leader, you'll be expected to boost morale, emotional intelligence, and productivity of your employees. One simple, but often overlooked method to earn the trust of your team members is to not take yourself so seriously. 

People in general, have a habit of placing managers and executives on a pedestal. Runyon along with his co-founder Dave Mortensen have worn kilts in the past while speaking and have made several satire spoof videos. Runyon mentioned that Anytime Fitness has a motto: "We take the work seriously without taking ourselves seriously."

While you don't have to dress as an extra for the movie Braveheart, bringing yourself down to earth for a deeper connection with your team will provide large dividends in the long-term.

One way to do this is to open up about things you struggle with or have in the past.

4. Competitive Play

Runyon encourages companies to really leverage the power of competition as it not only makes the work experience better, but improves employee engagement. Internal competitions can strengthen your team and better equip them for the external competition from competitors. 

Runyon has frequently stated that "Culture is the personality of your business and can be your greatest competitive advantage."

However, to truly maximize your companies potential, no need to focus on adding more external tactics. Instead, let loose and show more of your human side by incorporating more laughter, smiling, and even dancing (bonus points if it's salsa) into the day.

Published on: Jul 10, 2019
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