Want to Build a Fun Workplace? You Just Need to Let it Happen

Mark Manson is a brilliant writer, and one of my favorites.

He recently wrote an article titled Screw Finding Your Passion, where he made a comment about fun:

A child does not walk onto a playground and say to himself, “How do I find fun?” She just goes and has fun.”

I get asked a lot by HR Pros, who are working hard to influence their work culture and raise employee engagement, about how they can make their workplaces more fun. I think the above quote will be my new go-to answer!

If you offer a fun environment — meaning you don’t stamp out the fun your employees naturally want to have — all you need to do is allow fun to happen.

Now, you know your problem.

Planned fun is not really fun at all

You try and manufacture a certain kind of fun, a kind of fun that you and your executives feel employees will feel is fun. But, it’s not fun. Safe fun is not fun.

Did you want to use the safety scissors as a kid, or the big sharp ones the teacher had? Did you want to play the game the parents put together at the birthday party, or just run around with the other kids making up something?

Planned fun is the opposite of fun.

If you want a fun work environment, you have to allow fun to happen in a way your employees believe is fun. Sometimes that will make you nervous.

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That’s OK; that is what fun is all about. If it didn’t make you a bit nervous, it wouldn’t be fun!

When I took my first job as an HR pro, I worked in an office where “fun” wasn’t really something that was being had. So, I brought in one of those little indoor basketball hoops that hook onto the back of a door and put it on my office door. I would then challenge people to a game of “Pig.”  The office battles became epic!

How to create a fun work environment

One day, the CHRO came down to the HR offices and saw the hoop and asked me to play. No one, including me, expected this!

He was the opposite of fun. He was a buttoned-up executive! But, he was letting us know, that he approved of us having fun! He wouldn’t do it often, but every once in a while, he would come down and challenge one of use to a game. People would gather, they would laugh, they would have fun.

How do you create a fun work environment? Just let people have fun.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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