How to Infuse Fun at Work

We all adore the musical “Mary Poppins” and one of the famous songs that goes:

In ev’ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
you find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game!

On my daily briefing with my team, I always encourage them to have fun with each other and with their guests or customers. Why is this important? Well, it helps the medicine go down. It makes the job a game. It creates a fun atmosphere, which translates to a wonderful customer service.

Here are simple ways this can be accomplished:

1. Games. Team members think they already know each other well? They will be surprised to discover many similarities they have with another team member. I used a bingo game to accomplish this. I wrote 25 random criteria on a bingo board and their job is to find someone that matches each bingo square and have him or her sign. If the criteria applies to both of them, they both sign. I gave away $5 Starbucks gift cards to those who completed the board.

I also used Jeopardy at a previous job as a training tool on Bank Secrecy Act. I found a computer template online and changed the answers and questions, then either used it as a team-based game or 1 vs 1 vs 1.

2. Inspirational quotes. These are posted on our weekly schedules, daily rotation schedules and even in our meetings. Sometimes we read an article from Chicken Soup for the Soul as a way to inspire their day.

3. Fun Committee. Southwest Airlines and Ben&Jerry’s use this. Sycuan Casino and Resort has reinstated this recently. There are team member drawings, free food and other fun stuff created for team members to participate.

However, you don’t have to wait for the corporate to initiate this esp. if you’re working in a multi-department organization. Navy Federal has an Employee Recreation Program on each branch and has allocated an annual Employee Recreation Account to fund fun activities. Create your own employee recreation program and assign 2 leads to plan for events such as bowling, laser tag, karaoke, barbeque and Christmas parties!

4. Spur of the moment stuff. After an incredibly busy day, encourage the team to go out for a drink. Unwind and forget about work.

5. Team competition. I used this at Navy Federal to create a friendly competition to help each Member Service Representative achieve his or her goals. During the month of February in line with the Military Saves month, we divided the branch into 3 teams. Every checking account, savings account, certificates opened has a “dollar” value and they must deposit their money (photocopied money bills) into their piggy banks. At the end of the promotion, we tally their deposits and the team that has the most banked money wins.

I created similar games like this and continued this on a monthly basis. Our branch, which was consistently on the 13th place out of 15 branches in the region, ended 4th place by year’s end with over 170% of goals achieved.

6. Relationships! Relationships! This is the most important tip! This is one thing that many managers fail to focus on. There is nothing a manager or team leader can do to motivate the team if there’s no genuine and caring relationship established.

7. Jokes are okay! Regardless of how corny a joke may be, as long as it is appropriate. This will also encourage the team members to come up with their own jokes. Sometimes I use pick up lines to make the ladies smile:

“Do you have a band aid?

My knees are bruised because I am falling for you!”

This will generate other pick up lines from the rest of the team.

There are other ways to create a fun atmosphere. Surprise the team and do this consistently. It will make them eager to go to work and makes the day go faster. It breaks down brick walls of apathy and builds bridges.

Have fun!


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