Don’t Forget to Have Fun at Work

We all want to enjoy our work. Yet, many of us downplay the importance of fun and enjoyment on the job. If you view fun at work as a nice-to-have but not essential, consider the following…

4 reasons to promote fun at work:

  1. Fun fosters creativity and innovation. All work and no play make Jack a dull, stressed-out boy with fewer great ideas. A balance of performance, learning and enjoyment, says author and corporate trainer Matt Somers, is the recipe for productivity, creativity and innovation.
  2. Fun attracts employees and customers. People are drawn to fun and enjoyment. In college, I chose a summer job partly based on this “fun factor.” Waiting tables for the summer with friends at a vacation resort seemed much more attractive than an accounting internship at a law firm. If I, a logical, analytical, serious guy, based a job decision partly on the “fun factor,” how much more weight do normal people give that.
  3. Fun helps retention.  One of the reasons I stay with my current organization is because I really enjoy and have fun with my partners and colleagues. Again, we tend to underrate the fun factor in engaging and retaining workers – especially Gen Y.
  4. Fun can change behavior. Volkswagen recently hosted a contest to prove that fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better. I was especially impressed by one entry, the Piano Stairs Video, which shows how people persuaded pedestrians to take the stairs instead of the escalator by turning steps into piano keys.

Starting to see the power and possibilities of fun in the workplace? If so, here are a few tips for those of us who are fun-challenged:

  1. Build in time for energizing activities and relationships. A friend started a 3-on-3 driveway basketball league in our town targeted at guys over 40, and it was a huge success. Busy people with demanding careers and families made time for this weekly event for one main reason: to have fun.  We all need outlets like this, whether at work or outside of work. Virtual coffee with a cross-country colleague, sharing a good joke or prank, a mid-morning walk around the office, a weekly tennis match, a real lunch break, a good book, song or movie: these are little things that can make a big difference.
  2. Beware of letting excessive stress get you down. If this is where you are, maybe you need more cowbell.
  3. Be part of the solution.  As I was writing this on a rainy weekend afternoon, my son became restless and bored after sitting on his rear playing video games. I was in mission mode trying to finish this post, but I realized we both needed a fun break. So instead of telling him to go do something active, I challenged him to a ping-pong match. Similarly, I need to lead the charge for fun at work.

What ideas do you have for promoting fun at work?

Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.