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The Fun Factor:
Making Your Organization a Great Place to Work

Clint Maun, CSP

“No amount of money, no matter how much it is, will ever compensate you sufficiently for remaining in a job that is drudgery and robs you of your spirit, or one that prevents you from fulfilling a dream.”
—John Kehoe

Every time the New Year rolls around, magazines, research organizations, and the like compile lists highlighting the best places to work in the country. Organizations across the nation compete for a spot on the coveted lists. And it may not all be in vain—loyalty between employee and employer is no longer a given. Those companies that stick by their employees are finding that employees will stick by them.

It’s nothing new that healthcare organizations are faced with the daunting task of attracting and retaining talented caregivers. In fact, the nursing shortage alone is perhaps one of the biggest crises healthcare employers have ever had to face. However, even when times are tough, the best places to work create a fun, supportive environment and thus loyalty among employees, who will in turn stay focused on the goals of the company.

Fun at Work?

You may think that fun and work don’t belong in the same sentence. After all, how can anyone properly get the job done when they’re goofing off? And how can anyone have fun if they’re at work?! These are perfectly legitimate questions—and the answers may surprise you.

Working your employees “to the bone” might yield high productivity, but you should beware—the results of a sweatshop mentality will probably be short-lived. According to a study conducted by the Families and Work Institute, overworked employees can lead to drastic, on-the-job consequences. Furthermore, they are more likely to look for a new job, to feel angry with their employers and to make mistakes. But don’t get too dismayed—there is hope. There are ways to enjoy the benefits of high productivity, all the while having fun.

Fun at work generally translates into increased productivity, increased employee morale, and decreased turnover. In fact, some studies indicate that employees who have fun at work and feel their employer values a healthy sense of humor are much more productive and committed.

Plain and simple, people are attracted to a workplace where they can expect to have a good time while doing a good job. Everyone—from the CEO, to upper management and to part-time employees can reap the benefits of fun on the job. Here are three ways to spell fun at your workplace.

Find the time to laugh. When you see employees laughing and joking around as opposed to working, your first reaction would probably be to stop it at the get-go, and get them back to work. But, take a moment here, and assess the situation— try and understand that 15 minutes of laughing and camaraderie will most likely increase productivity, not reduce it. People think more clearly and operate more productively when they’ve had a break from the routine and an opportunity to recharge. The rule here is to just follow common sense. If your employees can laugh and joke and still get the tasks at hand done properly, they will benefit from the fun they have at work and will not let it interfere with their productivity.

Unveil a forum for everyone to share their favorite cartoons, jokes, and stories. Perhaps you could designate a certain day, like, “Wacky Wednesday” and encourage everyone to bring newspaper clippings, jokes, and/or stories that tickled them. To motivate and pique interest, you could consider holding a contest for the funniest joke/story of the week.

Caution: Make it clear that jokes and stories with a racial, sexual, or ethnic slant are not acceptable.

Nourish the concept that everyone is unique. Let employees personalize their workspaces. Encourage humorous office accessories and decor. As long as it’s appropriate for the workplace, allow employees to utilize/perform what can truly leave them refreshed and then ready to tackle the tasks at hand. For some, that might be working on a crossword puzzle or reading the paper. One person might take a brisk walk while another listens to music on his/her headphones.
Also, encourage people to share their methods for relieving tension. Not only will employees learn new tips and ideas, but sharing their experiences can also prove to be a stress reliever.

Make it Happen

Most of us spend more time at work than in any other activity. In fact, at times you may wonder whether you live to work or work to live. Perhaps the ideal job would allow employees to have fun while simultaneously contributing to the goals and bottom line of the company. While it sounds too good to be true, it’s not. You can make it happen. No doubt about it, creating a place where people love to work will yield returns in higher morale, improved customer service, and stronger client/patient loyalties.

Rules to Follow
While instilling an atmosphere of fun in the workplace can prove to be invaluable in terms of morale and productivity, please take caution: there are rules you should strictly follow.
  • Don’t ever mimic, tease, mock or make fun of the company, coworkers or management.
  • Don’t ever tell ethnic, sexist or off-colored jokes. If there’s any doubt in your mind that someone could be offended, keep the joke to yourself.
  • Don’t ever deceive other employees for the sake of fun. While hidden camera schemes and practical jokes seem to be all the rage, it’s not a good idea in the workplace.
  • Don’t let fun get in the way of the company’s mission/goals. If fun is hindering or giving a message contradictory to the company, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Did you know that...

  1. A preschooler laughs an average of 400 times a day. An adult laughs an average of just 15 times a day.
  2. Studies show people smile and laugh only 35% as much as they think they do.
  3. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, a chemical 10 times more powerful than morphine, into the body.
  4. Every time you have a good chuckle, you burn 3.5 calories.
  5. Just 100 laughs will boost your heart rate, and give you an aerobic workout equal to that of a 10-minute session on a rowing machine.

Source: The Motivational Manager & Women’s Day

Top Ten Places to Work*
  1. J.M Smucker & Co.
  2. Alston & Bird
  3. Container Store
  4. Edward Jones
  5. Republic Bancorp
  6. Adobe
  7. TD industries
  8. SAS Institute
  9. Wegmans Food Markets
  10. Xilinx

*As reported by Fortune magazine, 2003.