For some people work is an exciting opportunity to use their talents and skills to achieve great things. But sadly, for many people work is considered an act of drudgery that's the price you pay for getting a living wage. I personally don't see why nearly any work environment can't be purposefully fun and entertaining. I was inspired this week by sales guru Jack Daly's new book. In the book, Daly insists you have to put the F-word back into business. Forget simple Band-Aid fixes like birthday parties or a foosball table in the middle of the office. Opt instead for integrating fun into your culture.
When I ran my Inc. 500 finance company, I found that the fun factor had a direct correlation to hiring the right people. People who were passionate about our work and the growth of the company were able to find fun in nearly everything we did. Sure combing through hundreds of pages of financial documents sounds like a snorer to many people. So I looked to hire people who liked business and finance and had natural curiosity. Then I would give them enough context to learn the details of how people spent money and lived their lives. That's when each file became a wonderful storybook that was both fascinating and entertaining. Simply put, you can't create fun where there's no interest in the first place. Find people who love what you do and give them the opportunity to make the most of the opportunity creatively.
Here are additional insights from my Inc. colleagues.
1. Make it a game.
One common thread we all share is the desire to play games. Turning the work into a game is a great way to keep everyone motivated and engaged. For example, I turned an outdated training program into a "choose your own adventure" version of The Game of Life. The group was broken up into teams and they competed against each other to see who would make the right choices and come out on top. Instead of a dreaded four hour lecture with boring slides, the group saw it as a bonding experience, and the next group was eager to sign-up and attend. --Lean Forward
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2. Let 'em rock!
We believe in fun so much, we recently added "Our work is fun" as a core value at Likeable Local. We like to make noise--a large gong in the middle of the sales pit rings each time we add a new customer, and at 5:00 pm each day, we celebrate our successes with a "Moment of Rock." Fun is hard to systematize, but through emphasizing its importance in our core values, culture, and talent, you can ensure that a fun office prevails. --Likeable Leadership
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3. Let the people decide.
While research indicates that employees who have fun at work are generally happier and more productive, be careful: recent studies also show that fun activities imposed by management can actually decrease performance. Long story short, the best fun activities in the workplace are those developed and implemented by employees themselves--not by their bosses. In my first 9-to-5 job after graduating from college, my team made work fun in a variety of different ways, including giving out an award for the employee who processed the most purchase orders in a week, along with an award for the weirdest item purchased. (I once won that award for purchasing a pool cover for the President's vacation retreat at Camp David.) When it comes to fun, let your people take the lead, and support them when they ask for it. --The Management Guy
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