There’s nothing wrong with having fun at work

Welcome to the latest installment of “Investing in Staff Skills” a new regular feature in the CAR e-zine. The author, Ian Hope, is the Executive Director of the Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association and in addition maintains a professional practice training others on highly valued people skills. He provides articles on topics that will help collision repair shops and auto recycling yards, among other businesses, to raise individual and team performance. To enquire about Ian speaking or training at your event, send an email to ianhope@albertacom.com or go to his website at ianhope.com.

By Ian Hope

The dictionary uses some key words to describe fun: lively or playful; humourous and amusing; for enjoyment or pleasure.

Is anyone ever more content and successful in their work than those having fun doing it? How does your workplace stack up?

In toxic workplaces:

  • There is excessive formality and rigidity
  • Bosses themselves don’t seem to be having fun
  • Employees don’t feel “empowered” to have fun
  • Appropriate humour is not encouraged or modeled
  • Inappropriate humour is tolerated or “part of the workplace culture,” leaving people feeling harassed.

In workplaces of choice:

  • People feel empowered to have fun on the job
  • People are interested, focused and really “into” what they’re doing at work
  • Energy levels are high and evident at individual and group levels
  • People are comfortable with the humour and get along well
  • Staff and bosses relate well to each other as people

Author Grenville Kleiser (1868-1953) spoke about fun and humour this way:  

“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression… a business asset; it attracts and keeps friends, and lightens human burdens.”

And please don’t mind me sometimes quoting these folks from the distant past in my columns. If these enlightened and forward-looking people had this wisdom so many years ago, bosses today should be able to catch up on this point!

I myself like to think about FUN as meaning ‘Filling Underlying Needs’ because it does serve so many of them. For example, engaging the emotions, encouraging feelings of enjoyment and acceptance, enlivening the mind, spirit and body, making things more interesting, enhancing job satisfaction, and improving individual and team morale. These are but a few examples.

Life and work for adults can be so serious… and isn’t it true that we simply don’t have enough opportunities to be playful and have fun? This occurred to me a few years ago when I was visiting some folks with my son Jared at Mink Lake and found myself involved in a game of beach volleyball, a game I hadn’t played since high school. I really did get into itmy wife watching on the sidelines was positive I was going to have a heart attack in my frenzy to compete. But you should have seen the look on my (then 21-year-old) son’s face when the ball came just above the net and we both went high for it, with me pounding it right back into his athletic outreached body. Embarrassed, he looked at his friends and mutter, “who’d have thought that he would find air?!” Ok, with a number of pounds to lose I had that coming, but the point is that with all the fun I was having I completely lost track of my limitations and this added significantly to my performance on the court. Just imagine the possible impacts in a work situation!

There are thousands of quick wins and easily implementable ideas for having fun at work, and I will list just a few in today’s column:

• Lighten up and demonstrate appropriate humour as a leader

• Let people know that it’s ok to have fun at work. In fact, you should actively encourage it!

• Ask people how you can make their work more fun and enjoyable

• Whenever possible include a fun item on a meeting agenda or employee conference.

• Have a workplace social committee and encourage them to be active and to organize fun events that get people and families together.

• Help with the funding of a fun/social event.

• Celebrate all the holidays in each season and decorate the office..wear costumes!

• Acknowledge and celebrate the big events in our peoples’ lives- their weddings, family additions, their successes.

• Sponsor a friendly competition with fun prizes (office golf anyone?)

• Play some music! Play some games!

The list of ways to make work at the shop or office more fun and enjoyable is endless and I’d love to hear what you’ve tried successfully. There’s just no quicker, easier or less expensive way to lift morale, add to individual job satisfaction and improve teamwork than by encouraging fun interaction in your workplace!

Happy thoughts to you!




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