As a busy leader or employee, you might wonder: Is having fun actually an important part of work? In our view at ACHIEVE, it is.
We recently conducted a 2,400-person survey about what makes a great workplace. In the written answers to the questions, “What about your workplace contributes to making it a great place to work?” and “What about your workplace hinders it from being as great a place to work as it could be?” fun at work was a common theme. Interestingly, people frequently emphasized that they have fun and get work done, saying things like:
• “We have fun even though everyone is very, very busy.”
• “I can consistently rely on the people I work with to accomplish their responsibilities efficiently and effectively while still finding opportunities to have fun.”
One of our takeaways is that some people like having fun when it’s balanced with work. Fun and work go hand-in-hand, with fun aiding work because it boosts productivity. We also know that fun bonds people together, providing social glue that helps teams work with each other.
Having fun together helps staff relate to each other on a more human level which builds trust and connection. One survey respondent even felt that having fun was exactly what his leaders should do to build the trust needed to get through the hard times they were experiencing:
Our organization’s management coincidentally changed at the same time we went through serious layoffs about five years ago. This management team has remained silent with many of their actions. They’re just quiet people, but this is interpreted as being sneaky and distrustful of staff. If only management would just be regular people and have fun with staff to show they’re really human after all.
If you are in a leadership position and you feel like you don’t have time to join in the fun, here’s some good news: staff probably expect you to be comparatively less available due to your leadership role. One respondent wrote that when leaders attempt to have fun, that effort can go a long way. In their words, “The boss joins in the fun when he can.” People understand that others, especially their leaders, have demands. You can encourage others to have fun when your time allows for it.
There is much truth in the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter releases endorphins, increases oxygen intake, elevates our pain threshold, eases stress, and bonds people together. It’s important to remember to have fun. Life’s too short to be serious all the time.