Fun work – an oxymoron or a goal?

Is there such a thing as “fun work”? Should there be?

Tomorrow—January 27th—is one of those made-up holidays people like to mock. But I propose we honor it. It’s

International Fun at Work Day

And if you’d like to add it to your calendars, it’s the last Friday of January. Every year.

Now, I learned a long time ago that people have their own definitions of fun. Back when I was on Wall Street, the guys on the trading floor used to have a shoeshine man come spiff up their shoes while they moved their millions. But when one of the company’s rare female executives tried to emulate the tradition by having a manicurist make a one-time visit to a mostly female department—well, you would have thought it was the end of civilization as we know it. (Perhaps if she’d tried it on the last Friday in January…)

fun work can be productive workRegular readers will recall that I’m a big advocate for humor in business situations. This excerpt from The Levity Effect: Why it pays to lighten up by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher focuses on manufacturing jobs—the workers pressed their skeptical supervisor to give them some leeway to have fun if they exceeded their goals. But the authors’ conclusions apply to speakers as well:

“The research also shows that managers who have taught themselves to be funnier are more effective communicators and better salespeople, have more engaged employees, earn a lot more than their peers and are much thinner. OK, maybe not the last one.”

Note the humorous tag on the end. Does it detract from the message? Nope. It makes the message more memorable. And as I’ve surely said before, if you don’t want people to remember what you’re saying then why in the world are you saying it?

Fun work — an idea we can all enjoy

I hope you plan to celebrate International Fun at Work Day tomorrow. But don’t wait until next January rolls around to create fun work again. Do something—better yet, say something—to make your colleagues laugh, or at least smile, regularly. You’ll drive engagement, communicate better, and get thinner. Well, two out of three’s not bad.


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