Note to Leaders: 3 Tips for Making Hard Work Fun

Did you ever have one of those leaders that you were glad to see everyday? I bet their ability to have fun and encourage fun at work had something to do with it.

Why is Comedy Central’s The Daily Show such a popular way for people to watch the “fake” news? Adding sarcasm, satire and irony makes it a little easier to learn that the government is about to shut down or that health care costs are through the roof.

4 out of 5 Dentists say… no, wait…that’s not it…

Having fun on the workplace is good for you and your teams. Don’t believe it? Go ahead. Google it.

I’ll wait…

Ok, now that you’re back – – You’ve probably found something like:

“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.”

Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies

So hopefully now you buy in that it’s ok, or even beneficial to have some fun at work.

As a leader, how can you help your teams have a little fun? Enjoy going to meetings or make reading an email an adventure? It’s easy to be grueling. It’s harder to lighten things up. But with just a little extra effort, you too can add a little fun to your workplace.

COMEDY WARNING LABEL: Spontaneous is best. No one likes “forced” fun.

Periodically throw these tips into the mix:

1) Insert Levity into the Everyday

  • Insert a Mission Impossible reference the next time you send out an “action required” email. You know how it goes, “Your mission, should you decide to accept” and ending with a “This email will self-destruct in 5 seconds.”
  • Show a Dilbert comic or tell a joke at the beginning of a meeting. Note: For jokes, I recommend staying firmly in the land of the corny, “A skeleton walks into a bar and says, ‘Give me a beer….and a mop.'” Or borrow from your kid’s joke book so you don’t get into anything risque or inappropriate.
  • At the next “all employee” meeting, have the supervisors participate in a 10 minute hula contest.
  • yada, yada, yada…

2) Decorate Your Workspace

  •  A well-placed pink flamingo in a conference room.
  • A melting, Dali-style clock in a conference room.  Time can be elusive during meetings!
  • A “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster
  • Think of something that reflects a shared interest of your team… be creative!

3) Add Some Friendly Competition

  • Circulate a March Madness bracket. A fabulous one out right now is This is Madness bracket, Star Wars style. Something for sports fans and Star Wars geeks alike. A little discussion about Wookies vs Ewoks can be a nice brain break during the day. (Of course the Wookie wins!)
  • Have fun reviewing facts.  During a meeting have participants guess if a fact is correct or not using a Mythbusters-style “Confirmed or Busted”  contest. (see Discovery channel)  e.g. “Sales were up last month 1.5% – Confirmed or Busted?” See who on the team can get the most right!

Remember, the leader sets the tone. Life is short. Make sure you and your team can have a little fun during the day.  Dull and boring has been done to death!

Until next time … wishing you business readiness success!

Kirsten Jordan is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @Kirstenkbdb. Sign up to receive her and her colleagues’ blog at Current.

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