By Laurie Guest
When it comes to a business environment, fun is a relative term.
You might be part of a team where boisterous laughter or lots of teasing is appropriate while other industries may require a very serious environment. Some places might even fool you because they are so different than what you expected that the experience becomes memorable.
A dear friend of mine had to go to chemotherapy and asked me to accompany her on several occasions. This environment was new to me. On the way in the door, I pictured a quiet place, with a kind of sadness hanging in the air, and certainly not a place where fun would be had.
What a surprise when I found the complete opposite! I found upbeat chatter, smiles on the faces of every team member, and games. On the day we were there, we played bingo all afternoon. When you won, they wheeled over a cart filled with prizes to choose from.
If a place can make chemo fun, then why can’t more organizations find small ways to create joy? After all when we’re making the experience fun for others, the staff is having fun too.
Spice It Up
Professionalism does not mean you have to be serious all the time. Consider ways to bring fun to work.
1. Let the customers know you’re a fun place by your actions.
Southwest Airlines is a perfect example of this by using humor in their announcements and sometimes coordinating games. I recently saw a gate agent for Southwest conduct a paper airplane contest in the boarding area of a delayed flight. There were over 40 people playing and the winner received a $25 gift card. So much fun!
2. Create a tradition the staff enjoys.
Several companies have Casual Friday where jeans are allowed, and once a month they have a birthday potluck for lunch. Everybody brings something to share as they recognize that month’s birthdays.
3. Develop staff recognition programs.
People thrive on being recognized. Our company had a fun activity we did for several years: staff could nominate others for a “smiley award.” The name of the program sounds a little weird, but we had small yellow tickets printed up, and the staff could give those to each other for actions that deserved applause.
For example, scraping a patient’s windshield in the winter or going the extra mile for a co-worker earned a smiley award. The names of the nominee and the nominator were written on these awards. At our quarterly staff meeting all the smiley slips were placed in a fish bowl. Three tickets were drawn. Nominees won gift certificates to a local restaurant or store, while nominators won lottery tickets.
What was especially great about this praise was management had nothing to do with it. Nominees were peer recognized and prizes were given by the luck of the draw.
In reality, everyone won. We celebrated the praiseworthy things people were doing that could easily be overlooked.
Creating fun in the workplace takes a bit of effort, but chances are you can find ways to add a bit of joy to the day no matter your industry.
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