Can work really be fun? Of course the answer is yes! But sadly many people do not experience it as such and the common reasons are:
- Somewhere in their past they acquired the belief that work is NOT fun; rather that work is to be endured, got through, and is a necessity rather than something they would choose to do. And by holding on to that belief they have ended up in a job that is not fun – well, not for them, at least.
- When they started the job role it was fun but over time they outgrew the job; or maybe the job changed and now no longer plays to their strengths and enthusiasms. And the habit of getting up every day and going into work can be a powerful thing and suddenly they find that they are simply not enjoying themselves anymore.
Gather enough people in one place who either think this way or are trapped in the ‘habit’ of work and things are most definitely not fun. And only average levels of work will be completed. It can be turned around – but, how?
- When recruiting new staff make sure you pick a person with genuine enthusiasm for the job that needs to be done. Nothing beats this, not qualifications or experience.
- If people are exhibiting low energy levels, ask them why. Is the job role still right for them? Have they outgrown it? What would they rather be doing?
- Make work a safe place to be. And I am not referring to health and safety issues, important though they are. What I am saying is create a place of work where it is safe to be honest, to express yourself authentically, be creative and unique. When people can be their true selves, as opposed to masquerading in the role of ‘good employee’, they are more likely to have fun. That means, as manager: being fair and consistent in your management; giving clear directions about what needs to be achieved; allowing people to make mistakes as a part of learning and growing; and ensuring work is a respectful place where people are valued and heard.
- Give people individual responsibility; show how their personal contribution is vital and key. Demonstrate respect for them by giving them authority to make decisions in their area of expertise.
- Make work a game that can be won or lost. And the key word here is ‘game’. What are your targets? If you were playing a game how would you respond to targets being hit or missed? Communicate in that style.
- Celebrate at every opportunity – not just the birthdays, but milestones, significant achievements, personal goals attained, failures, learnings, the fact it has been a hard working week.
- Encourage silliness in the workplace, as long as it is respectful and in line with your business objectives. One call centre (Egg) wanted to instil a practice of ‘dancing with the customer’ rather than following a script so they incorporated a dance floor into the office. Sound silly? Perhaps. But a senior manager stated that one of their problems was to persuade staff to go home! They really did allow fun to be enjoyed and expressed in the workplace.
We spend a lot of time at work. It is fun to work hard and achieve challenging targets when the atmosphere is right and we work for a great boss with enthusiastic colleagues. Be the boss that allows that to happen. Be the boss that everyone wants to work for just because it would be fun!