A friend in the health sector spoke to me yesterday of the high absenteeism she saw in the health area she worked in. She cited 2 out of every 8 people per shift were either not attending or changing rosters. She said they were going to manage that by publicly displaying and penalising absenteeism. I cringed inside!
She also said in the 15 or so years she had worked in one department there had been no staff meetings and team building excercises consisted of celebrating pregnancies by putting a notice up to see who would come to the event. Then she said there would be a period of lamenting regarding how few bothered to come! She is no longer a full time employee and after 15 years now is doing temp placements.
In all walks of life, more than anything else, people need to feel valued and appreciated. There are more and more examples of people valuing lifestyle and wellness above the dollar. The people I refer to are adults. People over time can believe they are powerless to change things so they stay in the same place, passive recipients of dictatorships and burocracy.
Dr. David Abramis at Cal State Long Beach has studied fun at work for years. He's discovered that people who have fun on the job are more creative, more productive, better decision-makers, and get along better with co-workers. They also have fewer absentee, late, and sick days than people who aren't having fun.
The benefits to a pleasant and happy workplace are that happy employees are more loyal and productive employees. The absenteeism and tardiness rate may decrease as people look forward to going to work. Can the benefits to having fun be measured? Yes, by comparing the absenteeism, tardiness, and turnover rates pre-program implementation. In addition, an employee satisfaction survey can reveal how employees feel about their jobs, the company, and company culture. Will your customer complaints decrease as they encounter happier employees?
Company activities can teach employees how working together as a team can be fun and productive. The use of fun and humor in the workplace must be appropriate in nature. To be good humoured is to be appropriately responsive. The humor should not be offensive to the ordinary or reasonable person. It is meant to encourage people and help us lighten up. Fun at work can even lead to alleviation of the inevitable boredom that arises out of dull, routine, and non-challenging tasks. Even schools recognized the importance of giving children recess breaks so that they might have the opportunity to have fun.
Norman Cousins, brought to our attention how laughter can be healing or reducing symptoms. You may recall that he had a serious and painful illness. He discovered that 10 minutes of laughter could lead to one hour that was pain-free. Laughter releases endorphins that are more powerful than morphine. These endorphins can lead to a sense of well-being and optimism.
Who said that fun and work were mutually exclusive? Have we unknowingly incorporated the quote used in exercise "no pain, no gain" to the workplace? We use a lot of violent language in business. Terms like bottom line, cut throat, cutting edge, infiltrating, pain killers, take over bids, power struggles, branding, targets, and price wars to name a few. All with a negative focus!!
Lets turn that around ? Bring out that ability to laugh, dust it off, and go for the gold… the golden sounds of someone enjoying himself or herself. You may ask "What if I make a fool of myself?" That may happen, but you will be in great company.