Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fun and Work: An Oxymoron or A Necessary Marriage?

Timothy Johnson posted a question on his blog (see here) on whether “fun” can be incorporated into all jobs? Put another way, are there any industries or careers where bringing “fun” to work is either difficult or not applicable.

Here’s the backdrop: Our leadership class is reading and discussing the Leslie Yerkes book, Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work. Yerkes argues that companies need to incorporate more fun into their organizations to help improve productivity and morale.

Here’s where I am struggling. See, I truly believe that we need to strive to bring fun into the workplace, and I plan on continuing my journey towards that goal. I pride myself on being able to make people smile. Make people laugh. But, how do I implement fun into my organization? How can I be a change agent for my organization? For my industry?

I’m a project manager at a small manufacturing firm, and I’m beginning to believe that the manufacturing shop floor may just be the most difficult place to incorporate fun. I see so many production employees who just want to come into work, put in their time, and leave. No personality. No fun. Just work and get out. The “Leave-Me-Alone-and-Let-Me-Do-My-Job-So-I-Can-Get-Outta-Here” mentality. How do I bring fun to this?

I suppose what we need to do here is to first, define “fun.” Is it “being goofy.” Is it “playing around.” Or, is it simply just “enjoying your job.” Maybe it’s “doing tasks with energy and passion.” I don’t know if I have the answer to this yet (although this is probably a key definition to obtain)!

So, I guess I should just stop there. Or should I? Maybe I can still work towards this goal of bringing fun to the workplace. Maybe I already have worked on this goal. Let’s see, this past week, I have done the following:

  • Brought candy one afternoon to all four of my employees (I supervise a small work cell in the plant) (also, food is a great way to start - Everyone loves food!!)
  • Bought a large breakfast pizza for my work cell team on Saturday morning (yes, I did have them work on a Saturday)
  • Worked along side my team, on the production line, for a few hours on Friday and Saturday
  • Talked football, cracked jokes, laughed with my work cell employees while working along side of them

I guess I have started on that journey. I can also tell you this: I plan on continuing on that journey. Tim Johnson would say “If you’re not having fun, then why are you even doing it?” I think it’s time I live by that motto. And, I think it’s time I try to influence others to live by that motto. I suppose I can only start with my small circle of influence. The real question is: How do I begin to influence others beyond that circle?

What are you all doing to bring fun to the workplace? What is your definition of “fun”? How do you influence beyond your circles of influence?

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