I often talk about the importance of having fun at work and how important that is. People are interested in the topic (my posts on fun at work get thousands of reads) and it’s time I said more about it.
Fun at work does matter.
This is going to be a series of short posts. It’s a busy time of year so you probably don’t have a lot of reading time. Let’s get started.
We need to get clear about what it means to have fun at work. When I bring up the subject of fun, employees get excited and management becomes tense. Fun at work does not mean skateboards in the hallways, free beer in the break-room or suspending all the rules. Your business may do those things. I know of some that do and they are still not fun.
So what is fun?
The dictionary defines fun as: enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.
That doesn’t sound too wild to me.
What do you think?
It isn’t asking too much to find ways to bring enjoyment into the workplace. Right now [8:00 p.m.] as I write this, I have another, far more important task to do for a client. I will get it done tonight. That task contains no enjoyment, amusement or lighthearted pleasure.
This client loves to pick. No matter what I do for them, they pick. I always deliver far beyond the expectation and always on or under budget. Still, they pick.
I have a project to do for them over this coming week. They have approved the plan, the process and the budget (which I will meet). BUT, in spite of having worked for this client for 15 years and having never let them down, they want me to write a proposal even though work is to commence immediately and everything is already approved.
They were provided a written summary with all costs but they want a proposal by the end of day tomorrow. (We even had a meeting discussing this project today)
Sure, I understand processes and requirements.
I get quality control.
I get contracts.
But we’re not talking about national defense, government work or even a significant corporation. This particular client has 5 employees and total revenue less than the salaries of many of you reading this post.
They like to complicate everything they do. Then they like to debate meaningless points. Why? Over the years I have greatly reduced their operating costs, donated hundreds of hours and saved them a few times from liabilities. Still, they want a proposal.
Can you relate? Do you ever feel like your work is treated that way?
You work hard.
You deliver quality work.
You complete your work, even major assignments on time.
You have established a perfect track record.
There is no satisfaction in working hard to get a “pass”.
The kind of people employers want, or should want, are not people who work to pass. They should want people who want “A”s.
Stop rolling your eyes. True, we are not children. True, we should not need constant encouragement to do our jobs. We don’t need it.
However, some enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure certainly makes work fun. And that fun makes you want to get to work. It makes you want to go for the “A”. It makes you want to put in the extra effort. It makes you want to “over deliver”. It gives you extra energy to move a bit faster and finish a bit sooner.
You can relate. In the case of this proposal, if this client had just said something like, “You always do a great job for us. Last month you wrote off 10 hours of your time and we paid you late. We don’t need a proposal from you.” (All of true BTW)
I would feel appreciated and I would have the proposal written instead of this post.
I’d surprise them with a cool proposal because I understand their personalities.
That’s how it works with good people. When we feel appreciated, we go the extra mile.
Fact is, that’s how you can identify good people!
Does a little enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure come from simple recognition or small acts of appreciation? If so, you’ve found a good person.
This is no small thing. If you have good people and don’t give them the recognition or treatment which in turn gives them enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure, they stop doing it for others.
They run out of air.
That is the number one source of morale deflation.
Wake up to this. Morale deflation is easy to fix though it requires emotional intelligence or it might not seem genuine.
Remember, a tire that is under-inflated will pull a car in the direction of that tire.
Fun at work matters.
This is only the beginning. Stay tuned. I have a lot more to say about this. Right now, having had a little fun talking with you, I’m ready to go write that damn proposal!
Chris Reich, CEO