ARTICLES - MOTIVATING PERFORMANCE

Doing Business Can Be Fun

Are you having fun yet?  This is the question I have been asking business leaders over the past year.  With the threats of terrorism, unethical bookkeeping, and public distrust, the economic recovery has been a less than impressive.  Therefore, it is difficult to feel the “fun” in doing business.  Work seems to be stressful and unrewarding.  We are all just trying to keep our heads above the water.  

Wait a minute!  Having fun doing business and enjoying the work environment is not dependent on the economy, battling terrorists or unscrupulous accounting.  It is dependent on how we cope with the business realities that are out of our control.  Instead of “beating each other up” and blaming one another for the financial difficulties most businesses are experiencing, we need to wake up and “smell the roses”. 

No I am not losing it!  We are getting lost in our own self pity.  What about the joy of doing business in this country.  What about the freedoms, opportunities and good financial fortunes we have been blessed with for many years?  How quickly we forget the GOOD TIMES, when we have to endure the more challenging demands we presently face.  Business in America is GREAT!  Where is it better?   What kind of life style do you live?  Do you have any luxuries?  Where were you able to buy these things?  Do you have a nice warm (or cool), comfortable place to live?  Do we have good roads and transportation systems to send and receive your “necessities”?  Do you have loving families and friends who enjoy the health and comforts that have been made available by the enterprising freedoms we so often take for granted?

I think doing business is FUN!  Business is not just profits.  We have work environments that provide intellectual stimulation, occupational opportunities, safe work locations and colleagues that enrich our lives.  Of course, not all work relationships are perfect but I would venture a guess that you like someone, and some aspect of your job, in your work setting.  Recent studies have produced evidence that the majority of people like their employment.

Now is the time to struggle together.  No person is totally free of the impact of the past years down-turn. We will most often become closer to each other when we fight together, versus pointing fingers and accusing others for the business’ problems.   

Let’s return to the basics. Relax. Laugh. Play.  Or, did you forget how?  Is it immature to show your “goofy” side? I think not!  It is necessary to find the lighter side of ourselves. Certainly stress is running high.  What a great opportunity to break the tension with appropriate jokes and laughter.  Bring in a treat and stop work for 15 minutes and talk to one another.  Will the extra time away from your work cause enormous losses for the company?  Look at the research that shows the benefits of additional breaks, and giving employees more “company” time to get to know each other.  Studies confirm the necessity for social interaction in order to make workers feel they are an important part of a company.  This social sharing significantly increases the willingness of co-worker to be open, honest and able to “feel” the joys (and the burdens) of their co-workers (and their company) according to Hardiness Research at the University of Chicago. Also, it is important to remember that when you work next to a human being that has a sense of humor, the chance is you will lighten up, smile more, and gain more satisfaction from your work.  As a result, PRODUCTION GOES UP, and you don’t even have to ask for it.

“The most successful people in business do not just go out to work – they go out to enjoy themselves in their world of business and making money is a dividend to them” (Humor: The Fun Side of Business, James Poon Teng Fatt).  Neglecting humor as a serious part of business actually results in 1) high work stress, 2) communication breakdown, 3) low morale, 4) absenteeism, 5) high labor turnover, 6) poor productivity, 7) and low quality of service and products (Fatt, 1998).

Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, explains the place of humor and “fun” in business and work.   What are the benefits? 

1)      Increased ability to deal with absurdities in the business organization.
2)      Lowering of tensions, anger, pain so often distressing and depressing so many.
3)      Helps solving problems.
4)      Brings out another side of many workers, showing their human side versus only being a work machine.
5)      Allows personalization of work environments, and creates a “home like” feeling in their work space.
6)      Lifts spirits and increases energy.
7)      Increases motivation
8)      Stimulates creativity (which can result in improved ways to do their job.
9)      Makes working in teams more agreeable (with more possibilities to support others and feel supported yourself.
10)  Helps establish better understanding between workers which increases communication and tolerance of differences.

Weinberger and Gulos’ research has shown that humor (and fun in the work environment) enhances the likability of the source from which it comes (Journal of Advertising, 1992).  Humor in teaching has been shown to influence student’s attitudes toward their school teachers, and education in general.  What can it do in your business organization?  Why not try it? Be creative and have fun making work enjoyable.  A happy employee will give you back ten times more than what it costs you to find ways to integrate fun, humor, and a flexible work environment.

GET OUT THERE AND HAVE FUN!  Life is too short. Make the many hours you put in at work LESS SERIOUS.  Look for the positive. Be creative versus routine. After all, you can’t control the economy, but you can control your attitude toward humor, fun and excitement you generate in your organization.

HEY, DOING BUSINESS CAN BE FUN!  Don’t just think about it, DO IT!

 

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