SUNNY SPACE: Budget Direct sales consultant Stevie-Lee Mann mixes work with fun.
SUNNY SPACE: Budget Direct sales consultant Stevie-Lee Mann mixes work with fun. John Mccutcheon

Cat videos and memes boost workplace productivity

WATCHING cute baby animals boosts productivity, a landmark study by Japanese researchers found in 2012.

So it's not surprising that staff at insurance company Budget Direct's Kawana Waters office are encouraged to send animal memes to each other.

Sales consultant Stevie-Lee Mann said animal memes and videos brightened her workspace, and made her team more productive.

"Happy people work a lot better," she said.

"There was one day everyone was feeling a bit down and we were working a Saturday, so I sent out pictures of baby animals."

Ms Mann said people loved it so much they sent her requests for particular animals, and it became a daily tradition.

"You could hear the 'ahhs' around the office as people opened them," she said.

Budget Direct senior sales manager Lisa Box said keeping sales consultants happy made good business sense.

She said the company organised games, popcorn and movie nights, monthly awards and winter "PJ days" where consultants came to work in their pyjamas.

"When we spend as much time in our workplace as we do, we want to be able to feel that we belong to something and that we're a part of it," Ms Box said.

She said the company created a "work, learn, play" environment where looking at Facebook or YouTube was not frowned upon.

"If you've done your work and you've done some learning, you can play," she said.

Ms Box said an unhappy person was just as contagious as a happy person. The company tried hard to foster creativity and fun, which led to higher productivity.

Budget Direct sales consultant Shelley Hughes said the contrast with other jobs she had had was stark.

"In my experience, working for a government department, it's frowned upon to spend public money on having fun and doing fun activities other than business," Ms Hughes said.

"So it's quite a culture shock for me to work somewhere where they do."

Ms Hughes said a highlight was awards nights where she dressed as a princess, and staff competitions where she had won an iPad.

The awards nights and activities were linked to a system of incentives, where staff had to meet key performance indicators to participate.

"So not only do you get paid but you get time off work to go ten pin bowling or watch a movie. I've never experienced that in my working career before."