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Creating a Fun Workplace... 13 Ways to Have Fun at Work!
By Jody Urquhart

There are 3 ways to motivate people to work harder, faster and smarter:

    1. Threaten them.
    2. Pay them lots of money.
    3. Make their work fun.

In today's workplace, threatening people has not been effective. Paying them lots of money (even if you can afford it) has only shown short-term success. Only number three, making their workplace enjoyable, has a track record of effecting real change. It is time managers learned how to create an atmosphere that is challenging, creative and fun for employees as well as for themselves.

HOW FUN IS PRODUCTIVE

Imagine a work world where people love their work environment, and they are calm, stress-free and happy all day long. People who are in good spirits are more likely to be productive. Their mental attitude produces increased oxygen, endorphins, and blood flow to the brain, which enables them to think more clearly and creatively. They are more relaxed, more accepting of others, and more likely to share their sense of humor.

Laughter creates a bond that brings others together; people like to be with employees who are having fun. Creativity, intuition and flexibility are key to successful operation of organizations today. In stimulating environments, employees enjoy their time at work and they will also excel at work. Attracting customers is easier in an environment of hospitality. A fun workplace is not only more productive, but it attracts people and profits.

A TEST: IS YOUR STAFF SUFFERING FROM TERMINAL SERIOUSNESS?

Scan your workplace and take note:

Do you regularly catch people laughing or smiling at work?
YES    NO

When something funny happens do people stop and appreciate it?
YES     NO

Does your organization have fun activities at least monthly?
YES    NO

Do you have tools (fun giveaways, draws) to invite employees to participate in having fun in your environment?
YES    NO

Are managers usually optimistic and smiling at work?
YES    NO

If you answer no to two or more of these questions, your staff probably suffers from “terminal seriousness,” which is negatively affecting morale and productivity.

More Benefits of Humor in the Workplace

Dr. Norman Cousins said, “Laughter is an igniter of great expectations.” Children laugh an average of 400 times a day and that number drops to only 15 times a day by the time people reach age 35. Preschoolers must know something we don’t. Laughter releases endorphins (a chemical 10 times more powerful than the pain-relieving drug morphine) into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise. Laughing increases oxygen intake, thereby replenishing and invigorating cells. It also increases the pain threshold, boosts immunity, and relieves stress.

Humor also levels the playing field to create an atmosphere that encourages honest dialogue, open communication, and increased risk-taking. Creating more equality in power or control shows people respect and builds pride in their work.

This is just a sampling of the benefits of having fun in your workplace. Hopefully now you are convinced you could use a “fun injection” in your own place of employment.

Help people belong to your organization and not just work there by giving them a way to solidify and build rapport.

THIRTEEN STEPS TO CREATING A FUN WORKPLACE:

1. Give up the notion that professionalism means being serious all the time.
It’s possible to take yourself lightly and still be competent and productive. Start to promote the benefits of humor at work.

2. Define what fun is in your workplace and what it is not.
(e.g. harmful humor, off-color jokes, sexual humor, humor tarnishing the organization)

3. Organize a “Fun Committee” for dreaming up fun “stuff” to do during and after work.

4. Add fun to meetings.
Bring in fun things such as Nerf balls, a basketball and hoop, or party blowers. Start a meeting with a humorous story or joke.

5. Collect and share your favorite cartoons and jokes.
Create a Joke Board or a Humor Newsletter. Look for tools to disseminate fun and funny things daily.

6. Let customers know you are a fun company.
Do something just for fun (organize fun customer events, dress for fun, share funny things with customers) and give employees tools to create a fun relationship with customers (stickers, candy for children, dog biscuits for dogs, humorous buttons with the company logo). This makes work more fun for employees and it strengthens the relationship with customers. Dick Snow of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream says, “We believe that we’re in the entertainment business and selling ice cream is just a part of what we do. In our stores the counter is our stage and the customers are our audience.” Disneyland has the same kind of approach. Employees are part of an entertainment experience, and they aren’t just doing a job.

7. Gather your co-workers for the “Joy of Work” hour.
Everyone must talk about something good at work. Take turns telling stories about the things that make work a joy. Each person should contribute ideas on how to make work more fun.

8. Have a fun recognition program.
Fun is not a reward for performance, but can be a way to encourage employees to perform. For example, you could create “games” out of productive activity...who can motivate the most patients in a hospital to smile and say something funny to the head nurse. Playful and goal-oriented fun is best.

9. Respond to fun when it happens.
Funny things occur all the time, but if you are obsessed with left-brain analytical thought, you might find it hard to stop and respond. Natural spontaneous humor is a blessing. Stop and take a moment to give employees and customers an opportunity to see the fun in the event.

10. Commit to being fun and it will change your approach to work.
Start slowly with a few activities and communicate your desire to create a more relaxed workplace. Don’t expect things to turn around overnight.

11. Put fun things and activities in the staff room.
This allows people to take their mind off of the seriousness of work for a short period, so they come back to work with a more positive and balanced perspective.

12. Encourage staff to leave work behind at the end of the day.
Employees shouldn’t be so consumed with work that it affects their family life and leisure activities. Find fun ways for employees to “unload” at the end of the day or week. Create a ritual like writing a “to do” list and posting it on the board. By doing this, you commit to not thinking about the things on the list until the next day.

13. Encourage employees to develop their own style of having fun.
A nurse anesthetist at a hospital in Michigan often sings to his patients to help them relax prior to surgery. Patients have appreciated this so much that they have told family and friends about the experience. It is not uncommon now for the hospital staff to get requests for “The Singing Anesthesiologist” when they are scheduling their surgery.

Remember that employees create fun in the workplace, not managers. It’s a manager’s job to orchestrate fun activities (and not get in the way of them).

Jody Urquhart helps professionals create meaningful and fun work environments. For more information call us at (877) 750-1900 or see our website at www.idoinspire.com


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