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  Home  Articles- Making Work Fun

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Increase Productivity, Profitability, and Morale and Make Work Fun

By: Robin Thompson, MS/TRS

  Run. Hide. The "Fun" police have arrived and they are searching for those guilty of breaking a rather unamusing law: businesses must be, above all, serious places. After taking one look around, employers and employees are charged with having “no fun.” Bail is set — play, play, play.  

To meet bail, you need to learn how to incorporate fun into your workplace. We don't need to learn how to have fun, because play is something that we engaged in freely and unconsciously as a child; but we do need to learn to give ourselves and others permission to have fun. Acting "all grown-up" at work has become analogous to having no fun.

Too often fun doesn’t see the light of day, not even the office’s fluorescent light, because employers have sentenced fun to the bottom of their list of priorities. “Business first, fun last," may be their mantra. If you don't enjoy your job and co-workers are suffering from terminal professionalism, will that create a highly productive, successful environment? Taking our jobs seriously and ourselves lightly is the key to making fun of work.

Fun at work is taking the ordinary and making it, well, enjoyable. It is our reward for commitment and hard work. Fun makes difficult situations less stressful. The common ground of fun helps us bond with others. Physiologically, our brain thrives on fun. Research indicates that when we are having fun, we develop new neural cells in areas devoted to learning and memory.1

Why does it seem that fun and work are at two opposite ends of a continuum? After all, they’ve always co-existed and even complemented one another. Thousands of years ago, Stone Age women wove intricate, multicolored patterns into their textiles and used fruit pits to create beaded cloth. Even in the most subsistence economies, plain, undecorated cloth did not satisfy human imaginations. These women learned and challenged themselves to invent new patterns.2 But our thoughts on fun work changed after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Some speculate the Roman Empire crumbled because of too much leisure and fun. Subsequent societies debated and feared the impact of fun on their civilizations; they felt emphasizing hard work would protect them from extinction. In the sixteenth century, Puritan leader John Calvin scorned leisure, declaring it a negative pastime. He preached that hard work was the sole path to salvation. People began working hard and denying themselves pleasures. His ideals evolved into what is known today as the Puritan work ethic. This did not eliminate fun, but surrounded it with a sense of guilt that we continue to feel today. Yet the Puritans cannot be blamed entirely for our addiction to hard work and no fun. The Industrial Revolution helped create a consumer-based society where we began to "buy" fun instead of living it. This gets expensive.

A survey revealed that shopping is the most popular "out-of-home-entertainment" on weekday evenings. Four billion square feet of our land has been converted into shopping centers; some 16 square feet for every American.3 Perhaps if more fun is found in the work place, fewer people will be inclined to “buy”or seek out fun in the vicious work — spend — consume cycle.

Shrink Cartoon ImageFun work is not the prescription for every organization. It is recommended for companies that realize that the next major boost in productivity will be people, not technology, driven.4 For companies that are ready to catapult into the next level of business success, fun is the catalyst.

Initially, some employees may not want to participate in such "childish" activities. They must understand the difference between being "childlike" and acting "childish." Childlike behavior can lead to creative thoughts and actions, while childish behavior can interfere with productivity in the workplace. Unfortunately, when people define a “right” and “wrong” way to behave at work, they risk eliminating both the childlike and childish behaviors.5

By tapping into some childlike play, we will introduce fun into the work place and discover a multitude of benefits for employees and employers.

    Benefits of Making Work Fun --->  
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    Making Work Fun Why should it be fun?  
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  Robin Thompson is a professional speaker, trainer, and the author oF "Know Stress to No Stress". She works with organizations that want to keep good employees and with meeting planners who want to put some fun into their next meeting or event.

For more information she can be contacted via
phone: (304) 763-3222

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