To keep employees around, new research shows, managers should actively promote a fun-filled environment. But keeping those happy workers, however, does come with a cost. The more a manager is on board with the fun and games, the less productive employees under his or her control will be.
Researchers at Penn State University decided to investigate employee retention after hearing complaints about high turnover rates in the hospitality industry. “If you don’t like your job at Chili’s you can go to TGI Friday’s down the street,” explained hospitality professor Michael Tews. This is a bane for managers, however, who have wind up spending all of their time hiring and training new employees rather than making money.
The researchers interviewed 195 servers from an unnamed but popular U.S. restaurant chain to get their take on this issue. The researchers compared the servers’ descriptions of how much fun they had at work and how pro-fun their managers were—including whether they threw company parties, hosted good-spirited sales competitions and acknowledged employee birthdays—with each restaurant’s sales.
Fun-loving managers, it turns out, have the highest employee retention rates. But they also suffer from overall lower sales performance. If employees were broken down by age, however, the data show that older employees actually increase their sales performance at funner jobs. Younger workers, apparently, are less adept at balancing a work-play mix than older ones.
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