How and why you should bring fun to the workplace

Do you wake up excited about another day at the office? I wager to say that there are a good percentage of people who don’t find their job fun. We spend one-third of our life working. Many people think of work as something that cannot be fun. It’s our job as business leaders to make work fun.

Is it the job or is it the environment that causes most people to believe work is only a four-letter word? Take a step back and evaluate your work environment.

Years ago, our company decided it was time to update our mission statement. The first question we asked ourselves was who the mission statement is really for? We decided that it was for our staff, not our suppliers or customers. It has all the usual points — quality product, customer expectations, commitment, empowering, education — but there was nothing in it to say work should be fun.

Promoting a fun experience

I happened to be working with a local industrial psychologist. I couldn’t believe it when the industrial psychologist said I shouldn’t add fun to our mission statement because it wasn’t work-oriented. Of course we added fun anyway, and I truly believe it makes a difference. A portion of our mission statement reads, “while promoting a positive, fun and satisfying experience for all members of our team.”

Whenever there is a crisis or situation, I point to that phrase in our mission and remind everyone to have fun. Even when co-workers might not be having fun — customers are making outrageous demands, nothing seems like it is going your way — you can make a huge difference in company culture and your personal health just by the way you approach a situation by believing that work is not just a four-letter word.

So what do we do at VMS to have fun? First, our environment is clean, organized, bright, HVAC comfortable and modern. That sets the tone. We do the usual casual Fridays to let everyone show their personality in their attire. We have “show your colors” days for big sporting events — Cavs playoffs, Indians openers, OSU vs. Michigan, etc. Our CFO barbecues every Friday for the entire staff — and he’s pretty good at it. We award our team’s accomplishments with pizza parties. We have an annual golf outing open to all staff, customers and suppliers with a barbecue afterwards. We still have a holiday party in December. Our customer service team organizes a company spirit week with events every day — eating contest, corn hole, water balloon toss and more.

All the above doesn’t cost much and the ROI is very high. I suggest all of us take a step back and evaluate our cultures. Add some fun to your work, and it won’t be a four-letter word. Your staff will be happier and I predict much more productive. Isn’t that one of our goals in business?

Dolf Kahle is CEO of Visual Marking Systems Inc. He has spent the past 32 years building VMS into one of the premier graphic providers nationwide for the OEM product identification (decals, labels, overlays), vehicle graphics, transportation and Point of Sale markets.