Workplace Fun

Guest post by Great
Leadership monthly contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:

Last month I wrote about Silly Putty, so I thought I would
follow on with fun in the work place. It isn’t impossible. And leaders need to
understand that not only can work be fun, it isn’t a “bad” word.

“I never did a day’s
work in my life. It was all fun.” Thomas Edison

Wouldn’t you love to have a team of Thomas Edisons all
enjoying themselves everyday and all day? 
As a leader you know that this is a very rare occurrence. But there are
ways to improve your team member’s experience so that they are experiencing
more times of fun.

Have you had days at work that were fun yet others didn’t
seem to be having fun? While other days everyone else was enjoying themselves
and you were struggling to make it through the day? Fun is in the eyes of the
beholder. So how do you understand what is fun to others around you?


Fun to one is drudgery to another and there are several tips
to use that can help you and your team to have fun while at the same time
accomplish the difficult goals you have set in place.

Understand differences and embrace them

Too often we focus in how we are different from a negative
perspective rather than stretching ourselves to understand how the differences
between people can lead to richer ideas and solutions.

The first step to understanding is having a personal
conversation, reach out and learn more about the employee as a person. What
were some significant events in their lives? 
What takes up their time when they aren’t working? The point is that it
is much easier to have fun with people you know!

Focus on strengths

When people excel and are challenged by using their innate
talents they have a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work they do. If
you have an employee who is consistently being asked to perform tasks that they
have difficulty accomplishing, maybe they are in the wrong position. And I bet
they aren’t having fun! Great leaders quickly determine what strengths someone
has and work with them to strengthen them so they can rise to their full

Wipeout Viral Infections

Viral infections are the people who are infecting others.
They make it very hard to have fun at work. 
You know these people.  They are
the ones who others avoid like the plague. 
They are the employees that other employees spend productive time
talking about. They are the ones who only see lemons and no lemonade. As a leader
don’t let these people suck the lifeblood out of your team!

Liven Up the Workplace

Those companies with really strong and vibrant cultures
often have workplaces that mirror their culture.  Many of us have seen these types of
workplaces in Silicon Valley and other technology driven companies. Zappos took
the idea of workplace to an extreme. 
Take a look at this video of the
Zappos family .

I am not suggesting that all companies workplace be like
Zappos.  But the idea of giving employees
and various departments the opportunity to choose the “interior decorations” of
their workspace gives employees the ability to show who they are as a person.  This provides others with a better
understanding of who they are working with AND allows the employee to be

I finish up with the Zappos example with a purpose.  The Zappos culture is extreme if you lead a
law practice or a bank branch. And even though it is an extreme culture, it is
very successful.  The point is that
bringing fun to the workplace can improve your success as a company.

The questions for you are: 
What are you going to do to make your company more fun to work for, AND
what constraints are holding you back that need to be removed?

Beth Armknecht Miller’s is CEO of Executive
Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. Beth is a
trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer. She is a
graduate of Babson College and Harvard Business School’s OPM program. She is
certified in Myers Briggs, Hogan, and Business DNA. And she is a Certified
Managerial Consultant. Beth’s insight and expertise has made her a sought-after
speaker, and she has been featured in numerous industry blogs and publications.
To learn more about Beth visit