How a Little FUN Pays Big Dividends
GUEST BLOGGER: Karen Callahan, Program Coordinator, ActionCOACH Foundation
Have you ever noticed how you always look forward to being with certain people? It’s usually because you feel comfortable with them, and they are just fun to be around. In life, that translates into more friends and better relationships. In business, it means more clients and greater access to key figures.
A good sense of humor and the ability to have fun may be an intangible, but it’s an extremely valuable one. In fact, every time women are polled on what they want most in a man, the #1 answer is a good sense of humor. And it doesn’t stop there.
In this blogpost in Forbes, play was shown to improve workforce productivity by 20%. According to the article, play helps foster creativity and innovation. Humor typically lends an element of surprise, getting us to think out of the box, “combining ideas in new ways and embracing the unexpected to build something that hasn’t been done before.” Game playing can help unite teams toward a common goal with established rules and boundaries in an environment where everyone is equal.
The element of fun in the workplace helps break down the walls between people so they feel more comfortable expressing themselves honestly; this can often be the difference between solving a problem and never hearing that one exists. It also allows employees to bring their full selves to the office. As Forbes concludes, “Through play, we have a new lens on those around us—what entertains them, what motivates them and what we have in common with them.”
Fun helps us blow off steam in more acceptable ways. Research demonstrates that “spending time in non-work pursuits and letting the mind wander are both useful for our overall well-being and effectiveness.” Recent studies reported in an OnRec post demonstrated that fun at work helps reduce overall sick days, “with 62 percent of employees who had had no sick days in the last three months having had fun at work.” The importance of fun in the workplace also varies by country. British workers include lottery syndicates, charity fundraising, karaoke, yoga, fancy dress days, board games and knitting clubs in the mix.
In general, fun creates its own positive energy, and just makes everyone feel good…as long as they are included in the fun.
So how do you incorporate fun into your life and into the workplace. While the options are endless, here’s a few ideas to help get you started.
How to Have Fun in Life:
WikiHow suggests 14 ways to add a little fun into our lives…
- Seek out laughter in your life.
- Learn to laugh at yourself.
- Enjoy little moments in your everyday life.
- Be spontaneous in the moment.
- Make an effort to seek out and try new things.
- Look for ways to make work fun (see some ideas below!)
- Switch up your routine.
- Practice mindfulness throughout your day.
- Change your mindset to think more positively.
- Block out time for play every week.
- Revisit things that made you happy as a child.
- Dance for the sake of it.
- Find ways to have fun without spending money.
- Take vacations whenever you can.
Add a Little Fun at Work:
- Schedule a monthly Happy Hour outside of the office and invite the team
- Put anonymous smiley faces on people’s desks
- Sometimes it’s okay to drop the cool face and just get silly. Last year I bought a Christmas squirrel who held a snowball over his head. My husband and our guests had fun moving the squirrel to unexpected places in the house and surprising each other with a potential snowball attack. It’s stupid of course, and that’s part of the fun of it.
- Make your WIFLE fun – each person shares a bad joke, something stupid they did that week or that year or something that made them smile that week.
- Schedule a quarterly brainstorm day, complete with paper cutouts and crayons or markers. It’s amazing how getting adults to work with colors and Kindergarten supplies brings out the fun side. During the brainstorming, throw unfiltered ideas up on the white board (white boards are fun!!!) In addition to building camaraderie, you might come up with a couple of ideas that would have never surfaced if people weren’t feeling relaxed and playful with each other.
- Schedule a quarterly Leverage Game Night with just your team. Offer up gag gifts or great gifts.
- When I worked in the Sales Department of KPIX-TV years ago, we had lots of ways to let off steam and integrate fun into a deadline-oriented and stressful environment. I inserted dinner dates with super models into my boss’ calendar only to wait for him to find them. On another occasion, I set up a fake interview for my boss with Cosmopolitan magazine for “Hottest Bachelors in the City.” Now I’m not sure if we could get away with these tricks nowadays, but they sure made work more fun.
- And YESS, giving back, particularly to young people, can be fun and bring our own inner child to the surface. Not to mention how much fun it is to see students thrive and smile with joy when they learn something new.