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Agents of Fun
Why is having fun at work considered a bad thing? When a guy like Cam Newton has fun a work it becomes a National conversation on arrogance and humility. Again, why?
Being an HR guy, I get it, we are risk averse. We have seen fun turn into a lawsuit. Fun, like anything, is subjective. What one person considers to be harmless fun, another person considers it to be hurtful or even bullying.
It literally seems like no one has fun at work anymore. Why do we dislike people who have fun? Come on, you’ve seen it too, that person who is always smiling and looking cheery – you can’t help but wonder, “are they for real?”
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I’ve heard people say, “I don’t trust people who are always having fun…something is up with them…they smile too much.”
Anyone who has ever worked for someone else has ultimately had a scenario where you and some co-workers were having fun or laughing and the boss comes around and says, “Hey, cut it out, this is a place of business.” Or “What the hell is going on here? Stop laughing, this is work, it’s not supposed to be fun.”
Statistics show that employees who have fun at work are more productive and… (drumroll please) engaged! Yes, the all elusive engaged employee is the employee who has fun at work.
You can try to implement fun side projects at work and you can try to encourage fun but when I think about fun at work and reflect over my own career, fun is not such much a thing as it is a person.
When I was 17 years, I worked in a warehouse and was assigned a project where I had to look through pallets of shoes and make sure that the shoes in the box, look like the shoes in the catalog. With help from a co-worker, we would unwrap pallet after pallet, and opened box after box, looking at mostly defective shoes – but we had fun, we laughed about the ridiculousness of the job and other commonalities. We had so much fun that the floor supervisor didn’t believe we were actually working so she came down and watched us for a few days. She saw that we were working but we were also having fun. After a couple more days, she left us alone.
Another example, and probably my favorite, is when I was a Corporate Trainer, there were 4 of us and we had an analyst and an admin. We had fun daily. We laughed, we joked, we had lunch together, we hung out together, but we were super productive. Other departments were amazed at how much fun we had while still getting our work done. We turned that company around from a talent POV; we went from losing 80% of new hires to losing less than 5%. Most of our trainees transitioned to their Supervisors easily and were promoted quickly. We were Agents of Fun!
I look at a guy like Cam Newton, the MVP of the NFL for 2016, and Quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, who is always smiling and laughing (except after he lost the Super Bowl, but let’s stay focused here) when he scores a touchdown or makes a big play, and I see how infectious it is to the entire team and their fans. And if you like him or not, don’t we teach our kids to have fun? When did we start telling our kids to have fun everywhere except work?
Support your agents of fun – encourage them to have good, clean, safe fun. Encourage laughter and good will, and when you identify someone on your team who is fun, don’t tell them to stop – don’t tell them to not talk to others, in fact let them know that it’s alright to have fun – trust and empower them.
“I hate my job, we have too much fun,” – No one!