How do you have fun at work?

Today’s article is all about creating some lightness in the workplace. Goodness knows that given the stress many of us have been dealing with, we need to counter this with some feel-goods.
One lovely workplace, I recently ran some training for, gave their staff a surprise during my presentation. Two of the senior managers, Kat Peters and Karen Mackin, had taken over catering for the day.
At lunchtime, Karen and Kat came out to announce lunch was ready. Here’s a picture of Kat and Karen together with myself and General Manager, Lyndell Turton. 

Their efforts were very well-received, of course.
Apparently, dress-ups are not the only frivolous occurrences at Bluecare Sandgate. There are morning teas, ‘Birthday Bashes’ where birthdays and anniversaries over the past month are celebrated, a walking group, and events at the local bowling and golf clubs.
There is also spontaneous singing, a wellness campaign about who does the most exercise, and competitions about guessing the gender and weight of children and grandchildren about to be born.
I said to Karen and Kat that obviously, no work is getting done at their workplace.  But they assured me this is not the case. They said, “Yes, there is frivolity at times, but straight afterwards people get back to the task at hand ... with renewed energy.”
When I complimented Karen and Kat on their efforts, they were somewhat surprised. “Don’t all workplaces plan some fun at times?” they asked.
It does seem a shame that many workplaces take things far too seriously. I think this is because people forget that human beings like to have some fun at work and some lightness can help to counterbalance the challenges. Remember that happy staff = engaged and energised staff.
Other examples I have seen to help people feel good about being at work are celebrating people’s wins and successes, often keeping this as an ongoing agenda item at team meetings.
I also love it when I hear staff, particularly managers, telling stories at their own expense when they have said or done something dumb.
Then there is the black humour at the expense of your work or clients – one funeral parlour team I knew used to buy regular ‘Casket’ tickets together.
Then there are the practical jokes I have seen played on others. One example being a memo being place on the front of people’s computers saying they are now voice activated. To turn them on, the user must clearly say “Computer On!”
There are also the competitions for the best new buzz-word or acronym, ongoing board games in the staff room, funny awards, theme days, and ‘Biggest Loser’ weight loss competitions.
Of course, not all of the above examples will be suitable for your workplace. It might be hard to picture your team breaking into spontaneous singing, for example. The timing has to be right as well. It is no good planning a Crazy Hair Day, the same day some of your colleagues are retrenched. Perhaps a Grim Reaper Dress-up Day would be more appropriate.
And your humour needs to be appropriate for your workplace and monitored to see how people are responding. Goodness knows a number of my attempts have fallen flat over the years (I have a lot more where those ones came from).
Remember, if your humour, like mine, runs close to the line at times, you may have to check it first with others. My general rule is, ‘If in doubt, leave it out’. Though, occasionally, I forget this.
What might you do to inject more lightness and fun at work? And do you need to involve others to join you in this worthy mission? Certainly when the managers are on board and setting the example, it becomes easier for others to follow.

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