How Your Company Can Bring the Fun Back

lego-jailWe’re afraid of having fun because we might get caught by our boss. The dreaded Fired hangs over us like a dark cloud. So we quietly go about our work trying to stay under the radar.

The problem with this method of working is that our confidence takes a hit. We don’t always make choices that best fit the situation, because if the choice scares us then we avoid it. Living this way puts us in a state of lack instead of abundance.

Most of us were raised to stay under the radar. We got negative attention for being bad. When we did something good there was no fanfare because it’s what we were supposed to be doing.

Much of the corporate world works this way too. The people who get promoted are the ones who do the least damage to the company. That’s no way to reward an employee who has the courage to try something new and they fail.

We need to build a culture that accepts mistakes especially if an employee puts their neck on the line. When people are encouraged to take risks, they will be more likely to accomplish projects that will succeed big.

Warden or Boss

I worked for a boss who forced everyone to take a lunch at the same time. It didn’t matter if you wanted to use your lunch hour to go to the dentist. You had to take a break from 12 to 1.

A CEO who was really a warden.

My freedom felt violated. I tried to buck the system. I tried to joke around with my co-workers, bring iced tea every so often, and play the class clown. But he would have none of it. He forbade me to make tea for any of my co-workers. He bullied me into going to lunch at 12. Whenever he heard laughter, I swear he would walk by to shut us up.

Work was torture.

The work was tedious enough that no warden could keep me down. I escaped. I found a job with more flexibility and fun. I decided to become a teacher. I didn’t have the flexible lunch that I craved, but I had more time to do personal errands because of the extra days off and I did have a lot more fun interacting with the students and other teachers.

Why We Should Bring the Fun Back

Having fun at work builds friendships. Every company should encourage their employees to become friends because that means their people will be more loyal and have someone to let off steam with. Every employee needs someone to lend an ear sometimes.

One of the easiest ways to have fun is to encourage laughter. When co-workers make each other laugh, they release endorphins. Those feel good chemicals can make us feel so good that we can forgive any misgiving.

“Laughter creates a bond that brings others together; people like to be with employees who are having fun. Creativity, intuition and flexibility are key to successful operation of organizations today. In stimulating environments, employees enjoy their time at work and they will also excel at work. Attracting customers is easier in an environment of hospitality. A fun workplace is not only more productive, but it attracts people and profits.”

– Jody Urquhart of

We need to create more fun at work. It’s not that hard. It just takes a little practice.

What can we do to bring the fun back?

1. Let Employees Decorate Their Space as if It’s a Personality Explosion

Your space at work should be all about who you are. If you love football then let it be known to the whole office. Some of you may be thinking, “I can’t decorate my office because I deal with customers all day long.” This is when you need to decorate the most; revealing your personality will make it easier for the people who come into your office to bond with you.

How cool would it be if your company actually gave you a small amount of cash to decorate your office space? Awesome, right? I was thinking just $25 – $50 a year would make a employee feel special and share his/her personality with their friends.

2. Allow Freedom for Employees, as Long as the Work Gets Done

No clocking in, minimal meetings, no “hovering” as long as you do a good job. I’ve never worked in such an environment except when I owned my own wild mushroom business. I can just imagine that the employee retention would sky rocket because employees would finally be treated like adults.

Check out the concept of Results Only Work Environment.

3. Throw Small Parties

I’m a huge believer in celebration and parties in general. We should be celebrating the fact that we can do great work. Too many companies are missing out on the power of parties so their employees can bond. We’ve covered the importance of having friends at work and how it improves productivity and employee retention. What better way to encourage friendships than a company that allows for small and big parties?

4. Give Gratitude and High Fives to the People with Whom You Work

Many of us fall into the same old patterns and we lose sight of little things, like patting each other on the back. How cool would it be if someone walked up to you, gave you a high five and gave you an honest compliment. Gratitude improves our happiness and those around us.

5. Encourage Personal Development at Work

By developing yourself at work, you are creating a stronger/happier you. I’ve struggled to find the motivation to throw myself into my past jobs because I thought I wasn’t getting enough compensation. I always wanted more money, freedom, or fun at my jobs, but I hadn’t earned it. When I stopped focusing on what I wasn’t getting out of the situation and started appreciating all the skills I was learning I began to give more of an effort.

Why It Works

A company that encourages fun will be more productive, happier and willing to go the extra mile. I know you realize this because you are reading this blog, but many people don’t, so pass this article to a few of your co-workers and see what type of response you get.

Need a boost to your work happiness. Then check out Happy at Work Project and start one yourself.


Tim Brownson of The Discomfort Zone has an honest blog that tells the reader like it really is. He doesn’t sugar coat anything. I love that. One of my more recent favoritess was 10 Brilliant Self-Development Books You Haven’t Read.

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Image courtesy of lloyd


  1. “We’re afraid of having fun because we might get caught by our boss. ”

    Sooo true! Many of us are still stuck in the industrial age view that work is hard and not fun, so if you’re having fun, you must not be working or not be productive. When in most cases, the opposite is true.


  2. I think it’s a good reminder to flow value and that value is in the eye of the beholder. It’s also a good reminder that sometimes perception engineering is as important as your results (sometimes results don’t sell themselves.)

    It’s also a great reminder that we need to do whatever helps us be our best whether it’s play at our work or live our value on the job … that’s how we sustain our passion and passion may be the most important thing we have to sustain us for the long haul.

  3. FUN! We all need more FUN! Reminds me of how Mary Poppins got the kids to take their medicine. She made it FUN and stuff got done!

    At my last job, I was one of the loudest laughers there, rivaled only by an owner, who traveled a lot. Whenever the two of us were gone, I’d get emails from all sorts of people about how quiet the office was, and how they missed my laugh. (It was such a nice feeling!) We really were able to let loose in that office, within limits, and still be productive. Plus, laughter lightens the mood. You could always tell when it was somber day; walking through the halls felt harder, heavier… As if the air was thicker.

    I remember traveling to our corporate office in San Francisco for the first time and that office was the polar opposite of ours. NO ONE SPOKE above a whisper. NO ONE LAUGHED (unless it was Friday). People had the look of prisoners, sitting in their short cubicles that exposed them to the harsh office elements (no privacy at all in that place). Ick… Did they get work done? Sure they did, because that’s all they could do. Did they like their jobs? I didn’t get that impression.

    I’ll definitely send this around to people I know — it’s a great article! Bring the FUN back!

  4. Great list! I wish you could be in the H.R. Dept. of some of the places I worked at over the years! All the sterile rules of “order” are de-humanizing! Is it any wonder most people hate their jobs? It is probably far more the environment than the actual job.

    Thanks for this awesome post! I’ll be forwarding!

  5. Hi Karl,

    You are so right. I have worked in places where my boss was like a warden and it added so much stress to the work environment. People were afraid constantly and that never really did anything. I mean…no one really did their best because they were so scared and stressed. So I think it is vital for employers to bring fun into the job. Happy workers produce great results and that is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

  6. Hi Karl,

    Great article. I can think of a few people who could learn a few things from this article. You have to wonder about the emotional and people smarts of bosses who forget that their employees are people, not robots, and that maintaining a healthy emotional atmosphere (by allowing for some fun) in a work place is crucial to the overall productivity and well being of employees. It is in fact possible to have fun at work and still be professional and productive, but sadly some individuals are hung up on some very outdated notions about work and professionalism and would rather make others miserable than rethink their own limited views.

  7. Hi Eduard, I think having fun is vital to a successful company.

    Hi J.D., Perception engineering is a great phrase. Apple is brilliant at this.

    Hi Megan, What a great compliment. Laughter is infectious and motivating. The key is to help other release their laughter too.

    Hi Suzen, Yes! The culture of the company is probably more important than the actual work.

    Hi Nadia, Fear only makes people hide from their greatness. We need to let people be themselves and have fun.

    Hi Sue, That’s why we need to push for change in the workplace. The more people that speak up the better work environments will become.

  8. Hi Karl: I definitely agree that the best managers let their employees clearly know the results that are expected of them and then they give employees flexibility on how to achieve those results. You weren’t allowed to take iced tea to the office, seriously? Wow. Research is being done that clearly shows the benefits to both employees and the company’s bottom line of allowing fun in the workplace.

  9. Thanks for quoting me in the article! I appreciate it and i enjoyed the article, especially the part about being raised to stay under the radar, so true. Fun is never our top priority at work, it takes risk but is worth it.