Because too many people are accustomed to the idea that going to work means checking your “real self” at the door, many small businesses have been striving in recent years to make work more fun. This is a little like saying, relax and enjoy the dental visit. (Unless you happen to be a dentist, in which case you can substitute “proctologist” in that last sentence.) Making work fun is somewhat of an oxymoron — which is not a fancy term for the geek down the hall.
But going to work does need to be an enjoyable experience if people are going to give it their best. This doesn’t mean standing around the water cooler “dissing” the boss or the company, telling off-color jokes or getting your kicks at someone else’s expense.
True fun springs from the same well of ingenuity where all great ideas originate. Consider a friendly competition, as in sports, for instance. Two chefs in a busy café can spontaneously decide to see who can flip the most flapjacks; two waitstaff can see who can get to customers’ tables the fastest.
This can lead to some really creative signage. Smart small business owners might want to invest in a few of our blank yard signs and handwrite an appealing message such as: “Are We Having Fun Yet?” in permanent marker, giving it that personal touch that says the boss believes in balance, not just balance sheets. Then post the sign in the break room, or wherever your team congregates out of customer view. One manager presented a newly engaged employee with a plaque that read, “No Business During Fooling Hours”. This won her heart — and her continued company loyalty.
The important point is that employees be permitted to generate and implement some office fun that is not distracting and enables them to be even more productive. As long as what people come up with is safe, above-board, and harms no one, encourage your team to enjoy themselves. Happy people make a better business. Believe us: we know!