I have always had a love/hate relationship with workplace fun.
I’ve seen employer attempts to create “fun workplaces” go horribly wrong … Instead of fostering cooperative happy, and more productive environments, it spawned competitive, entitled and ineffective environments. What was designed to create camaraderie and show appreciation developed into something divisive and disparaging.
After many years of watching employees take advantage of or be completely indifferent to the efforts of their employers to bring joy, levity, recognition and appropriate fun to the workplace, I became sour to the very idea of it. I decided workplaces couldn’t be fun. It simply wasn’t possible. I believed workplaces should be about work and anything given to employees should be earned through their efforts and outputs.
Ffff the fun, yo!
About 6 months into my latest position, I was tasked with organizing our Halloween contests …with an S. Meaning there were multiple! One each for costume, decorating, pumpkin carving and themed snacks. I began wondering what I’d gotten myself into! I set myself to planning — and I waited for people to suck the fun out of these well-intentioned events. I waited for people to demand more, allege unfairness or loaf off.
I waited … It didn’t happen.
We had fun. Appropriate fun with sincere appreciation and no sense of entitlement … But it didn’t hurt our productivity or our attitudes.
We had fun for that day, for those few designated moments — then we went back to work. Like the fun hadn’t happened.
I watched and waited to see what would happen for Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Years. And Valentine’s Day.
The fun came and the fun went. No one missed a beat.
My Fun-less Grinchy Heart grew two sizes … I was amazed.
Now, I gladly lead the “Spirit Committee” efforts for our company. I look forward to it. I post and boast about it using the #MyJobBetterThanYours tag … I believe again there can be fun in the workplace without all the negative non-sense.
So what’s so different about this place vs the others? What is the recipe for workplace fun?
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