What makes ‘Fun’ Important?
In today’s frenzied world of technical communication, the human element is being lost. The pervasive presence of Social Media available through our smart phones is taking our attention away from creating deep relations with the people in our livesand people are not as happy being connected without emotion. A recent engagement study by Leadership IQ shows only 6% of the companies in China have a highly engaged company culture.
In ThomasFriedman’s recent book “That Used To Be Us”, Joel Cawley, VP of strategy forIBM is quoted "Two things will differentiate companies, one is analytics and the other is the old fashion stuff”. He also predicts "all the old-fashion stuff will start to matter even more!" "The only advantage you can have is in the human stuff", "These will be thereal differentiators, and the technology everyone will have." One type of old fashion stuff is having fun, which leads to being happier. This article shares the philosophy of “FISH”, which will help you as a manager create a work climate that includes fun; it leads to having happier and more engaged employees. The article concludes with suggestions for ways to create fun in the workplace that will lead to higher levels of engagement.
The philosophy of “FISH”
This book, published in 2000, is now seen as providing one of the most interesting and sought after “change management” concepts. It has four core principles for making the work environment fun.
These principles are:
1. Choose Your Attitude
2. Make Work ‘Fun’
3. Be Present
4. Make Their Day Feel Special
1) ChoosingYour Attitude
This principle follows’ Stephen Covey’s Habit 1 “Be Proactive”, from the book,“Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Everyone must be more aware that they are responsible for their decisions and need to have the courage to make the right choices that will lead to their happiness. So give your team more opportunities to make the choice of how to have more fun at work. Remind them that if they are not considering their choices, then they are choosing to let other factors impact their lives and their job satisfaction.
2) Make Work ‘Fun’
Making ‘work fun’ is important, for you and your team may spend up to 2,000 hours a year at work. That’s 23% of the year. If we exclude the 9 hours a day that weare sleeping and eating that number is 33%. As a manager that realizes that one third of our life is at work, encouraging your employees to create more fun means a more positive work climate and happier staff.
Secondly, for managers there is limited fiscal risk in trying to have fun at work. If the working environment is already boring or uninteresting, changing the situations has only upside potential to retain and attract new talent.
In today’s business world, managers are looking for ways to get their departments to stretch their abilities. So by being a manager that nurtures a philosophy of having more fun at work, you are developing more creativity. Once again, practicing creativity and looking forways to have fun at work has low risk. This can lead to employees forming new skills for solving other problems as well, leading your team to change faster than others.
3) Be Present
The focus of this principle is that we have to remember to concentrate on what we are doing and how it impacts others, especially when they are with us. We have the choice to care about others feelings, concerns, and emotions so that we can interact with them in a fun and productive way. It is not easy to be 100% focused on others, their moods, and their concerns. One major skill required for the ability to be present is ‘active listening’. As a manager that excels at ‘active listening’, you can read your team’s feelings more accurately and choose how to interact with them in a positive and fun manner. Thereby you will be leading the ‘fun’ charge of change. When your team starts to mirror your new behavior, then your group’s over all active listening skills will increase as well. ‘Active Listening’ is one of those old fashioned skills that will separate top talent from average talent, and will give your team a market advantage.
4) Make Their Day Feel Special
The last behavior is one of the hardest to achieve. How does one make others feel special? This too is another opportunity for you and your direct reports to practice innovation. When we think about making people feel special, we learn to be present and aware of our customer’s needs and emotions. When we make others feel special your staff will enjoy working for you, they will create more ideas, and like the positive energy that you add to their life. As Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappo’s and author of Delivering Happiness says, “People always remember how we make them feel”. It may sound old fashioned, though intomorrow’s economy it will be an advantage that satisfies clients and attracts top talent to your organization.
Ways to Make Work Fun
Before I share some ways to make your work environment fun, I do not suggest playing pranks or games in a factory. Safety must never be compromised for fun. Now, on to some fun ideas that can keep you alert and present when you are around.
Select oneor two days a month per quarter where employees come to work with a joke thatthey can share. Give out small awards for who tells the best joke and who tellstheir joke to the most people. Create a team of employees to be judges to prepare and present the awards. Remember to advise your staff to use good taste when selecting their jokes.
Bad Hair Day
What would the office be like if everyone wore a wig to make themselves look like someone else. The wigs can be taken off when meeting clients and vendors. How about wearing crazy ties or scarves to the office. I have a nice green and white tie that I wear to work on St. Patty’s day. People loved it and it really matches the spirit of the holiday. How about changing casual Friday into custom Friday once a quarter?
Each month select one person to go around the office snapping pictures. Most people love to see themselves in a photograph. Buy a digital display frame and have the photos shown at the main receptionist. Every quarter let the employees download their favorite pictures from a central location on the company network. It may be wise here to set some ground rules, and agree that employees cannot use others pictures without approval from those in the picture.
Getting people to smile is one of the simplest things you can do to make others feel good. Smile when someone looks at you, and you’ll notice that most of the time they will smile back at you. This simple old-fashioned behavior is easy to measure as well. Imagine what your office would be like if you smiled to everyone and they smiled back at you.
The Engagement Connection
The process of identifying and executing more fun into the company culture can be the foundation for moving your organizational culture to a more social and entrepreneurial culture. Research shows that companies with high entrepreneurial and social cultures have higher engaged employees.
The exercise of creating amore fun work climate is highly sociable and entrepreneurial. When you allow your staff to drive these activities it will stimulate creativity and a sense of adventure that leads to constant change, which is the kind of climate wheretop talent thrives. Since the focus of this change is on employee fun and workplace happiness, there is less risk to the business during the initial change. In the beginning there is less negative client and partner impact aswell.
As these changes become the norm, better business results are achieved through:
1. Higher staff retention
2. Attracting and recruiting top talent becomes easier
3. Employees become higher productivity
4. Employees are more adaptable to market challenges.
Success and Fun in One
The future forall companies is clear. Employees want exciting adventures at work. The market challenges will increase, and those companies that truly create a work culture built on the spirit of entrepreneurship and fun will be the winners. Be the type of manager that ‘Lets the games begin!’