Whether at the height of a recession or even regular days at the office can be a stressful drab and drain the energy right out of you. Some people keep droning on and on about goals, strategy, profits and issues and problems all day and every day – yikes! I remember eons ago someone mentioning to me that where there is laughter, there is no work taking place. Are you kidding me? It is no wonder that the majority of today’s work force is not happy with their careers.
No doubt, corporate culture has the biggest impact on happiness at work, but a close second is the fun you have while you are on the job. Laughter relieves tension and stress. If you are a leader-manager you cannot do anything better than tapping into the power of humor in the work place. If you and your fellow employees do not have leadership that is thinking about or not providing it, take matters into your own hands and initiate it. Last but not least, get out of there if is there is nothing at all to laugh about at work. Happier employees make for a better morale not to forget happier customers as well.
When you really think about, the work place comes richly prepared with some solid fodder for fun. You need not be the real version of the TV show “The Office” and look far for fun. Customers, co-workers, meetings, memos, e-mails, and so much more bring forth barrels of laughs sometimes. Then you may have some gregarious team members on board who initiate fun situations. I can only invite you thinking about becoming the one inducing a bit of tension relief – especially if you are part of leadership.
What are some ways to have fun? Below a few real life examples that I am hoping will pique your curiosity and perhaps you can kick off boosting morale yourself soon. Make sure that you are around when you initiate this, otherwise fun can turn into stress too when people no longer think what you have done is funny. The whole point is to include people and having fun together. You are to laugh with, but not at people.
When my colleague goes on vacation we have often “improved” his office for him while he was out. One time we mirror imaged the whole room including his furniture (we stopped at rearranging the pictures on the wall though). Another time we blocked the door with card board boxes stacked up to the ceiling. Then one time we filled part of the room with shipping peanuts. Quite a long time ago he did not want to see anyone drop anything off into his in-bin, and so we took twine and bound up a nifty package of all the paperwork and suspended it from the ceiling. Thus there was truly nothing IN the in-bin.
With the next one you need to be careful not to damage any equipment. One time my co-workers glued my head set to the base. I forget what kind of glue it was, but it was strong enough to pick up the whole phone with the receiver and yet I was eventually able to separate the two again. I was totally surprised when a call came in and the whole phone was stuck in my hand.
Next thing I did was to take one phone out of their area and I substituted it with a string and a coffee can. The one who laughs last, laughs best….
Calling in and pretending to be a customer is sometimes the most hilarious thing to do. I called our service scheduler once pretending to be a customer who needed a technician in an absolute ridiculous time frame and with even more ridiculous scope of work. I told her that I would call her back in a while to see what could be done about this. Oh, my! I could hear the comments dealing with confusion about what job and customer this could be about. Key here is to letting people off the hook quickly and so I walked over and asked about the mystery customer’s name. We had a good laugh when they figured out it had been me putting them on.
A classic is turning the desktop screen upside down. I have done this a few times when co-workers are away from their desk and then I go to the desktop view and right click on Graphics options, Screen rotation and then pick 90 or 180 degrees. Wait and watch what happens. Make sure you are close so you can help out if need be. You do not want IT having to come around fixing this.
In a fairly recent team work event one group was supposed to report out their results and one team member missed it. When he came back, the rest of the team told him that the event had been postponed and he had been chosen to provide the report out in a public speaking event in a close city to us. The event coordinator had been clued into this and the team member then started to mentally prepare himself for this – in utter disbelieve. I have never seen anyone turn pale like this in a while.
I guess you get the gist of this exercise. Fun lurks at every corner of your business. It is so wonderful when I hear folks laugh at work. It relaxes the work place and personal tension. Business mutually benefits from it too. For one employee morale has been proven to increase. Then think about how relaxed minds turn creative so much easier. A lot of creative thoughts linger around events like this that turned into neat business ideas and concepts. One Mexican food chain called Chipotle even makes the presence of smiles in interviews a hiring criterion, because they feel that a smiling fun loving employee makes for happier customers.
A word of caution though, laughter can turn around and turn into stress really easy if you let it get out of hand and people feel offended, teased, or picked on. Fun is interpreted quite differently depending on many factors. On the other side you also want to make sure business is still kept to a professional level and no financial harm comes of it. Other than that, load up the barrel and fire away at some creative fun. Share your creative funny stories in the comment section.