What are the barriers to doing this?
Achieving results in today’s business environment is really hard. And as a leader you are held accountable for the results of your team. Some leaders may think that having fun at work is goofing off and distracts from productivity. Other leaders may cope with the stress of work by “knuckling down” and tolerating humor even less. Some managers fear that if they allow fun at work that their workforce won’t respect them or take them seriously.
Why is this important to do anyway?
People have the need to have to play. All work and no play really DOES make Jack a dull boy…and a stressed out one too. Work-related stress has been linked to increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders, easily matching the loss in productivity from physical injuries. As it turns out, laughter really is one of the best medicines. Laughter releases pleasurable endorphins, lowers blood pressure and helps us tolerate more pain. Fun also increases the number of days your employees will spend at work. Fun and laughter have been linked to less absenteeism and fewer sick days. An environment of fun is serious business and when present can have a direct correlation with creativity and innovation. Fun also gives the brain a break from the monotony of routine tasks. Laughter is one of the strongest glues that bring a team together. And when morale is strong, the team is more resilient and can take on even the most challenging problem. So why have fun? Well…it makes our tough jobs a little easier.
How can you do it?
- It starts with YOU. Lighten up, will ya? As a leader, your behavior sets the boundaries. If you allow yourself to loosen up and have a little fun, you are giving your employees permission to do the same. Your workforce will take their cues from you. Now I’m not suggesting that you act goofy all of the time. Rather, just lighten up enough to allow others the freedom to have a little fun.
- Be willing to laugh at yourself. Certainly not everyone is a comedian…and PLEASE, don’t try to be one. You have to be mindful of “safe” humor, so avoid telling jokes because you never can be sure what may be offensive. But one of the safest and most powerful things all of us can do is to not take ourselves so seriously…to laugh at yourself. This signifies humility which draws people to you. Instead of covering up your mistakes, quirks or challenges, find the lighter side and share them. Your staff will love you for it.
- Tell stories to keep the laughter and learning alive. We have learned from stories from the time we were born. Stories can share a lesson, a challenge and a laugh. The best kinds of stories…have all three! Every organization and department has their unique culture and stories associated with the work that they do. In Human Resources we have sick “HR humor” that allows us to relieve the stress of dealing with problems all day long. When we encounter one of these “you can’t make this stuff up” situations, we try our best to share that story for us all to learn from but more importantly…to have a shared hearty laugh.
What are some other strategies you use to inject fun into your work and that of the department you lead?
Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/blog. We learn best from each other’s experiences.