It it is not always easy to hold on to good staff. And the cost of attrition, recruiting and (re)training, can be both costly and time consuming for small businesses. Rod Solomons, one of our mentors, shares some ideas and quotes from Matt Weinstein’s book “Managing to Have Fun” about motivating small teams and small businesses to have more fun together in the workplace.
“Bringing fun to the workplace doesn’t happen in a void, rather it happens as a natural outgrowth of what is already occurring on the job. And not everyone likes to receive acknowledgement and praise in the same way. You have to ask yourself – who are the people on your staff? What do they like to do for fun? How can you match their style of fun when they’re not at work with the way you reward them on the job? The better you get to know your employees, the more appropriate and the more effective you can be in using fun and play for reward, recognition and revitalisation.
“Laughter and play on the job are not an end in themselves. They are a doorway, an entree into being more human with the people we work with. When two people share a laugh together, they share some fun together, there is an unspoken communication between them that says “I share your values. I am moved by the same things that move you. You and I are alike in some way”. That is the purpose of laughter and play and fun on the job – to create a bridge from the isolated world of work to the everyday world of the rest of our lives.”
“Laughter and play are a powerful way of reaching out and making connection with another person, because laughter and play are a common language we all share. The language of shared laughter and play is a language we first learn as children. It is a language that can cut through the artificial hierarchies of boss and employee.”
In Matt Weinstein’s book, “Managing To Have Fun”, he gives the example of a considerate boss who goes out of his way to connect with each of his employees. One morning he put a long document on his assistant’s desk and asked her to make some corrections before lunch. She started to work through the document and on one page she found a little Post-It note that read “if you can get this done in an hour I will take you out to lunch on Thursday”. Further on in the document she found a small chocolate bar bar taped to the top of the page and another Post-It note saying “you are now halfway through, eat this immediately!” What the employee liked about this was the fact that her boss was thinking of her when he drafted the document.
Other examples are spontaneously bringing in pizzas for lunch, balloons and cake for someone’s birthday or anniversary of joining the business, giving an employee a surprise day off to pursue their outside interest, or taking an hour off during a less busy time of day and taking the staff to a shopping mall and giving them each an envelope with some cash and telling them they have just one hour to spend the cash on themselves or the money goes back to the boss.
If having fun at work is going to be something you would like to do then it would be a reasonable goal to try to do something every week, maybe just for 15 or 30 minutes.
Doing something spontaneous and unexpected will most definitely snap your employees out of their everyday habitual behaviours… And by acting spontaneously gives the people around you a rare gift – a reminder that life is fluid, never static and that life is fun. And this in turn can go a long way to keeping your employees happy, focused and wanting to stay working to you.