Using Fun to Enhance Your Workplace

by WOHe

Just because the kitchen and bath firm down the street is stale,
routine and full of stress doesn’t mean yours has to be. Take it
from a guy who knows work can be fun, exciting and challenging for
you and your employees. And, when you learn how to bring fun into
the workplace, you’ll find you have less turnover, happier, more
loyal employees and greater productivity.

While it may sound trite, it all starts with a smile. A warm,
sincere smile from you will rub off on customers and employeesand
will not only increase employee satisfaction but also lead to
friendlier, easier-to-do-business-with clients.

Creating an enjoyable work environment means more that blowing
out candles on a birthday cake or an occasional pizza night out,
however. Today’s employees want to feel respected and that they
matter. They expect to be treated fairly and consistently, and they
expect to be challenged and heard. But, finding ways to interject
fun and games into your business will make it a much better work
environment.

Spelling It Out
Companies need to create vehicles to help blur the lines between
work and play. They need to help employees feel that what they do
at work is fun. The playful exchanges at work permit the
development of enthusiasm and teamwork, and this, in turn, breeds
creative ideas that can easily be transformed into high levels of
productivity.

To achieve a level of enjoyment and fun at work, some basic
expectations for employees and the company should be defined:

1. Create a Fair and Consistent Environment. Make sure that
every employee in the company is treated equally. The slightest
sense of favoritism or bias toward a person, group or situation
will lead you to morale issues and possibly even legal exposure.
The development of a written, fair, firm and consistent policies
and procedures manual will help you minimize problems in this
area.

2. Challenge People. Try to create jobs that minimize constant
repetition with little variation. Empower employees to tackle new
challenges and opportunities and to look for new ways to accomplish
their jobs. Cross-train employees with other responsibilities. By
encouraging people to learn new skills, they will become more
valuable to the company and will achieve a greater degree of self
gratification and self confidence. People want to be challenged,
but when they do succeed and achieve, you, the boss, have to
recognize and reward them with positive feedback.

3. Be Attentive to the People in Your Organization. Be a good
communicator; 70 percent of this should be about being a good
listener. When employees know you are listening to them and taking
them seriously, they will be more likely to make positive
contributions to the company. As a consultant I learned very early
on that the best solutions to the problems identified by management
will, in many cases, be solved with the input and support of the
employees I interview.

4. Communicate Success and Failure Regularly. Always be 100
percent honest and direct in communicating successes and failures
with your employees. You can transform both positive and negative
experiences into exciting opportunities. Always be honest, be
direct, be sincere and most importantly, be yourself.

Adding Fun
Fun within the context of the business world means feeling
comfortable to be oneself and to interact even while working and
accomplishing tasks with other individuals you respect.

I always thought it was a little “corny” when we referred to our
business as a “family.” But, it was! We liked each other, we helped
each other, we respected each other and we worked hard and played
hard. We communicated openly and often. Everyone knew where they
stood at all times. Also, we did a lot of different things to
create a fun environment. For instance:

We did an annual “Company Outing.” We closed on Saturday and all
employees and their family members did a Friday evening to Sunday
evening getaway. We had the “Company Olympics,” and everyone
contributed to the meals. Good family interaction creates bonds by
merging work life with home life. Names and faces come
together.

We did an annual Christmas Party at our home for the employees
and their significant others. We always had some kind of
entertainment choral groups, magicians, Santa Claus etc.
Every Saturday, before the store opened, we all cleaned the
showroom. While this doesn’t sound like fun, we always had treats
and good coffee and spent the hour talking about everything. It
also gave a sense of pride to see how great the showroom
looked.

We did “Hero of the Week” awards (a traveling trophy) for the
employee who had done something special (above and beyond the call)
for either a customer, a fellow employee or the company.

Everyone dressed in costumes for Halloween and we encouraged
customers to do the same. There were lots of impromptu pizza
parties, picnics and birthday celebrations.

Every year around the holidays, instead of exchanging gifts, as
a group we decided to sponsor a family through the Salvation Army.
Everyone participated in making it a special time for part of our
“extended family”a family in our community who needed a hand. It
was a team-building effort, and rewarding.

We loved to celebrate a good month, a nice order, a wedding, a
birth, a birthday or an award. By celebrating both personal and
business performance, we were able to create an environment that
equates fun with business success.

Whenever possible, support or organize ongoing programs of
informal athletic competition. Encourage and support the efforts of
employees who want to organize softball, bowling, tennis and other
activities. When supported by the company, more people will
participate.

Encourage “healthy” employees. Those who want to stop smoking or
drinking or lose weight will need the support of both family and
co-workers. When they feel better, you will also.

Cultural Sensibility
Define a culture for your company. The day-to-day practice of
cultural sensibility is the ultimate driving force for the success
of the company. A vivid example of the company that lives and
breathes its culture is the Harley-Davidson company.

Harley-Davidson has a culture defined by five formal values.
These values are communicated to all employees as part of the
recruiting, hiring and orientation process and are promoted,
reinforced and used every day as part of the life of the company.
These values are:

  • Tell the Truth.
  • Be Fair.
  • Keep Your Promise.
  • Respect the Individual.
  • Encourage Intellectual Curiosity.

Harley-Davidson goes further, supporting these basic values by
identifying issues that are always a concern to the organization.
All employees are reminded of these concerns via a simple statement
that identifies these issues. These continuing concerns are:

  • Quality
  • Participation
  • Productivity
  • Flexibility
  • Cash Flow

Take another look at these two lists. Notice how similar they
are to the “Golden Rule” of times gone by. “Do unto others as you
would have them do unto you.” It may seem trite, but it still
works, and it even makes more sense for the successful company of
today.
Finally, here’s a self-help checklist to make work more fun:

1. Smile. Make a sincere smile a trademark of your company
starting with you.
2. Communicate. Offer all of your employees as many ways as
possible to communicate (verbal, written, meetings, evaluations,
etc.)
3. Allow Mistakes. Translate mistakes into problem-solving
activities.
4. Create Family Events. Link work and family in fun
situations.
5. Support Outside Interests. Offer company support for outside
involvement.
6. Encourage Healthy Lifestyles. Promote exercise, healthy eating,
no smoking and well-being.
7. Celebrate. Take an opportunity to celebrate positive
situations.
Remember, “All work and no play” well, you get the idea.’

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