Have you ever heard anyone or any organization say they live by this rule:
I/We achieve more when the workday and colleagues' lives are made miserable by absurd policies, a strategy I don't know, out-of-date equipment, training - what's that, and a general lack of recognition.
(Okay, almost no one. Yet the data - 70% of employees are inspired to go through the motions, at best, and nothing more - begs to differ.)
Literalists will quibble about this idea of fun at work, saying It's a job not a play period. To that I say:
- Learning is fun. Where you find a culture of learners, you find a culture of leaders and achievers. That's pretty fun.
- Fun is exciting.Where you find an exciting place to work is where you find ... challenges being met, addressed and overcome.
- Fun is being recognized and being held accountable.
- Fun is learning from mistakes and then laughing together at them. Fun is when you share with others the story of your mistakes and what you learned from them.
That’s hard fun.
It is expressed in many different ways, all of which all boil down to the conclusion that everyone likes hard challenging things to do. But they have to be the right things matched to the individual and to the culture of the times. These rapidly changing times challenge educators to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: they must connect with the kids and also with the areas of knowledge, skills and (don't let us forget) ethic adults will need for the future world.
Change educators to managers, kids to employees, adults to companies and it reads:
It is expressed in many different ways, all of which all boil down to the conclusion that everyone likes hard challenging things to do. But they have to be the right things matched to the individual and to the culture of the times. These rapidly changing times challenge managers to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: they must connect with the employees and also with the areas of knowledge, skills and (don't let us forget) ethic companies will need for the future world.
It reads well, don't you think?
A recent study at the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Structure summarized:
This study examined the link between workplace fun, employee satisfaction, and perceptions of customer service quality. Our results showed that employees who experienced fun in the workplace had greater satisfaction with their job and that the relationship between workplace fun and job satisfaction was greater for those who placed a high value on workplace fun. Additionally, we found that satisfied employees believed that their organization provided customer service that was reliable, responsive, and empathetic, and that employees were knowledgeable and able to instill confidence in customers.
There’s some softness in their terms like believe and work place fun and job satisfaction and a high value on workplace fun. It’s like saying those who value sunlight felt a greater satisfaction when the sun rose. But, still.
Fun brings more discretionary effort**. That arises when we’re free to move forward with less fear and more fun. Less fear and more enthusiasm. Less fear and more ideas...and more solutions. More solutions mean more revenues, fewer costs, more cash-flow, more cash.
Fun means success. Fun means sustainable.
For me, I’ve always made it fun where I worked. I have a strongly developed sense of humor, personally. Professionally, I’ve found keeping a sense of humor around keeps a sense of perspective, balance and purpose around, too.
Make it hard fun.
* I’m not comfortable with the model of companies and managers are adults and employees are the children. That being said...the mechanics of motivation and learning remain the same for adults or children. I’m pretty convinced that a major factor in our low employee engagement scores as a country arise from our institutions discouraging our natural skills of curiosity, communication, and collaboration.
** Discretionary effort: I love that term. It’s so objective and disengaged, yet it’s a key term in the employee engagement arena. But it defines the difference between a volunteer, a fan or advocate or champion or evangelist from what’s commonly understood as employee.
This was one of the 52 ways I included in my first book on Employee Engagement.
On the sidebar of this site are links to free samples of the introduction and the first category of ways to recognize your employees.