Ten Steps to
Creating Higher Performing Workplaces
By Bob Pike
Do you believe that job stress is higher than it’s ever been?
That people have greater fear about their jobs and financial
security than ever before? And that stress and fear reduces
productivity? What if you were told you that there is an antidote
for these conditions and that this antidote could be taken almost
any time and any place? It’s true, there is.
What is the antidote? The antidote is fun. Are you thinking
that the idea of fun reducing stress and increasing productivity in
these tough economic times is ridiculous? That your organization is
looking to simply survive, let alone thrive in these turbulent
times? If that’s true, then your competitors are silently cheering
that you’ll continue to believe that. And they will continue to
implement fun in the workplace and reap the productivity benefits.
First, let’s get
rid of either/or thinking. It is not fun OR productivity – you
don’t have to make a choice. It can be fun AND productivity. A fun
work environment is one in which a variety of formal and informal
activities regularly occur. These activities are designed to uplift
people’s spirits and positively and publicly remind people of their
value to their managers, their organization, and to each other
through the use of humor, playful games, joyful celebrations,
opportunities for self-development, or recognition of achievements
It’s less about
taking up time – and more about some thoughtful planning. Here are
just a few of the things people are doing right now (in order of
frequency) to create a more positive, fun, work environment:
personal milestones (e.g., birthdays and hiring anniversaries).
events (e.g., picnics, parties, and social gatherings).
celebrations of professional achievements (e.g., award
for community volunteerism (e.g., civic and volunteer groups).
cartoons, jokes in newsletters and e-mails).
darts, bingo, and company-sponsored athletic teams).
competitions among employees (e.g., attendance and sales
for personal development (e.g., quilting class and book club).
(e.g., bands, skits, and plays).
CEOs and leadership
experts are taking this seriously. Kemmons Wilson, Jr. of the
founding family of the Holiday Inns said, “The
responsibility of incorporating ‘fun’ into an organization is as
important a trait for a CEO to possess as is strategic planning.”
Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines states: “We hired attitudes
that contained a humor and fun component and developed their
And Ken Blanchard, Chief Spiritual Officer of the
Ken Blanchard Companies and co-author of The One Minute Manager
said this: “There are two things that can drive out fear. The
first is faith and the belief in a better way of doing things. The
second thing that will drive out fear is fun.”
Here are some of the guidelines to insure that
fun leads to productivity.
Fun activities should:
1. Make people
smile (at a minimum) and laugh (if at all possible).
2. Positively and
publicly remind people of their value to the organization and to
3. Be inexpensive
to develop, easily prepared, and able to be implemented within time
and space limitations.
people’s spirits in ways that make them feel good about being part
of this organization (e.g., not embarrass, belittle, or offend
anyone in or outside of the organization).
5. Be as
inclusive as possible, while respecting the right of anyone to opt
out without censure, ridicule, pressure, or criticism.
6. Not detract
from anyone’s ability to safely, professionally, or efficiently
perform his or her job responsibilities.
7. Contribute to,
and support, the organization’s culture and core values.
8. Be done on a
frequent basis, encompassing both planned and spontaneous events.
9. Be planned and
implemented largely by employees (not be a top-down program).
organizational results that are desirable, identifiable, and
It doesn’t take a lot of time to put fun in the workplace to
achieve results. What it takes is planning. And the results are
well worth it. We are in the midst of tough times, but in the
toughest of times people have always realized at a deep level that
things were too serious to take seriously. So warriors joke when
going into battle, while in battle, and in between battles – not
because there is anything funny about it – but because it’s too
serious to take seriously.
And those with
health challenges are found lightening things up – because it is a
way to move on through that particular challenge. And as those
responsible for producing results in the workplace – and on whose
shoulders rests the real job of moving the world through this
current global economic crisis – we can do it faster, better, easier
– if we’ll have the courage to allow and encourage our colleagues
and co-workers to have fun while they are doing it.
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