Fun in work

Did you know that happy workers will stay in a job longer, and be more productive? NAOMI SIMSON

Naomi Simson

By Naomi Simson

They call it work because it used to be just that; “work”. However, work is different now. There is such a melding between the work week and leisure time, that employers must re-examine how an employee “experiences” work.

If the BlackBerry is never off, if people are connected 24/7 to email or online, then work has become an “always on duty” experience. Sort of unofficially being on call.

It is called work because it is based on the notion of labour in return for wages, which enable you to then live life. However work is such a big component of many peoples lives that “work” turns into other things – career, status, how we see ourselves.

I read that there is a new book out. Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher wrote “The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up” (Wiley). It will be released later this month, and looks at how fun in the office increases the bottom line. The authors apparently take a very serious view on that… fun apparently is a serious business – getting it right and remaining productive.

We wrote “Happy People – Happy Profits” some years ago; and I’m pleased to say that nearly 10,000 people have a copy of this little gem (if you want a copy, see here).

The author says that “when your people are laughing, they’re listening”. I know in our interview process we often ask people to share their favourite joke… which is always good to lighten things up. It doesn’t have to be funny – in fact some candidates can’t think of a joke. Day one when they start though they come ready with a joke… (don’t they Matt!).

A study of 737 chief executives of major corporations found that 98% would hire an applicant with a good sense of humour over one who seemed to lack one. Work is about community – and a team that is having fun together is a team that is productive together.

We once had an employee who was like a bear with a sore head… we never knew what mood he would be in. When he left everyone was relieved, even though he was technically really good at his job. He was just no fun to be around.

Having fun makes people loyal – they like where they work and they will stick around. The survey of 1000 employees conducted for the book said “employees who laugh at work tend to stay”. Those who rated their manager’s sense of humour “above average” also said there was a 90% chance they would stay in their job for more than a year. People don’t like to work for a boss whose sense of humour they describe as “average” or below average. The employee’s chances of staying dropped to 77%.

A Harvard Business Review said that executives described by co-workers as having a good sense of humour “climb the corporate ladder more quickly, and earn more money than their peers” (great news for you Ben – funniest man in RedBalloon).

A study from the University of Maryland showed that while stress decreased blood flow, humour increased it, by 22%. Having fun is good for your health too.

But sometimes things just are not that funny at work. One of our values is “having a sense of humour and fun”. To me this means how we do business, how we problem solve. It means not taking ourselves too seriously. Remembering that we “work” in the business of giving people a good time… and if we’re having fun our customers will too.

Naomi Simson is the founder and CEO (Chief Experiences Officer) of RedBalloon Days, Naomi is passionate about pleasure! Backed by enthusiasm, energy and drive and recently named one of Australia’s best bosses (Australia’s Marketing Employer of Choice), the Entrepreneurs Organisation (Sydney Chapter) President 2007 – 2008 and mother of two, Naomi also inspires others as a regular speaker, writes a blog and has recently completed her first book .

To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .



Tim Sharp (aka Dr Happy) writes: Here, here…Naomi. Here, here.  At The Happiness Institute we’ve been promoting this line for years now and it’s interesting and pleasing to note that more and more organisations are seeing the value in developing and reinforcing happiness at work.



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