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Unfortunately, too many seem to think that fun at work is a must-do, an obligation. This of course defeats the whole purpose of fun. In fact, when fun is seen as a requirement, any motivational value is lost—because employees can actually come to dislike fun.

    Teams need to understand that having fun should never be a requirement but rather a desired side effect. Often, employers simply add “having fun” to the list of things employees need to do during the day. It becomes nothing more than just another thing to get done. Result: there’s less genuine fun, but plenty more frustration.

    Let’s not forget that historically, fun and work haven’t exactly been best buddies. We should always try to make employees feel more fulfilled in doing and enjoying their work. If you’re going to implement “fun,” it needs to be done with the same care as any other strategic management tool.

    Remember also that for many people, “fun” isn’t clowning around and telling jokes. Sometimes just the work itself can be fun. There’s a story about a young Japanese man who opened an auto repair shop. He really got enjoyment out of working on cars—to him, it was fun. The business grew and he hired mechanics, but he drew the line at opening more shops. “Think of all the extra money you’ll make,” his friends and family said. But he modestly declined, explaining, “Once I do that, I won’t be having any fun anymore.”

    A study of IT workers (yes, IT workers) revealed that 70 percent of them see fun at work as the number one priority. And 98 percent of 700 interviewed CEOs said they prefer to hire an employee with a sense of humor. In some workplaces it seems as though the opposite is true. Someone ought to tell all those grouches that it takes fewer muscles to smile.

    Many studies have shown that as many as one third of all employees consider fun to be an important part of the corporate culture. Humor is important to help people to loosen up; to become more creative. It has nothing to do with avoiding work or even working less efficiently. Can you imagine a ball game without the winning players celebrating and joking around? And there’s a reason so many movie DVDs include outtakes that include all the bloopers that had to be cut from the film. Fun is—well, fun!

Think the actors had fun while working?

“Humor is when you laugh anyway.”
German proverb

    Basically there are two teaching strategies that get people to retain what they learn:
    When was the last time you sat through a training session and got either of those? Doesn’t happen too often, now does it?

When was the last time the team had fun?

Laughed together?

Created something outstanding while having fun?

Worked out a stuck situation with a smile?

Continued to be mad with someone who smiled at them?

    How can we add fun?
  1. Start with yourself
  2. Never force it
  3. Inspire others
  4. Allow fun
  5. Make fun part of the job
  6. Find the positive in every situation
  7. Smile, smile, smile

    Some years ago I hold a session for a team of engineers on the rather dry topic of assembly. My session was one in many over the course of three days. I guarantee you that every one of those engineers remembers my session. Why? Because I managed to make it funny. You can teach anyone anything—as long as you can generate interest. People who have fun at work actually work more productively. Which store do you prefer to go shopping at—the one with the grumpy employees or the one where people genuinely smile at you and make you feel good?

    Think about hobbies. Did one of your hobbies ever burn you out? Did you ever consider getting out of your hobby? Many dot-com bombs succeeded early on because they were able to motivate employees by creating a fun work environment. Now, to be fair, some of those companies might have taken fun a bit too far (or profits not far enough!)—but you rarely hear former dot-com employees complain that they didn’t enjoy their jobs.

    So why aren’t there more companies requiring the work environment to be more of a joy? Look around you—are those managers just too inflexible or are they not willing to go the extra mile to try something new and fail at times?


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