When leaders think about building great organizations with inspiring cultures, they usually don’t consult children’s books for guidance. But childhood author, Dr. Seuss, revealed a key culture-building principle when he said…
The good Dr. realized that fun, is indeed, a good thing.
For the past few weeks, we have been talking about what a strong, inspiring culture looks like.
The ERC (Employers Resource Council) compiled a list of characteristics of “great workplaces that excel at the attraction, retention, and motivation of top performers” based on 15 years of surveys and interviews. 
The leadership practice of having fun in the workplace corresponds with an attribute in the ERC report.
ERC noted the following about great workplaces:
Great workplaces have a unique culture that is their own, often described as fun, congenial, collaborative, positive, passionate, and creative. Their work environments, people, and workplace practices all help create a vibrant, positive, magnetic, and infectious culture.
Every leader can improve their culture by incorporating fun into their workplace.
You’ve heard the saying, “Families who play together, stay together”. Or you have heard, “Families that eat together, stay together”. Well, I would like to say people in the workplace who play together, stay together and develop a unified team spirit that cannot be broken.
Over the years, we would just look for an excuse to have some fun, especially during our summer peak-season, because of the pressure and stress our people bore during that time. Even scripture advises us to take time to enjoy life.
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”
– Ecclesiastes 8:15 NIV
The objective of each fun activity was simple: to communicate to our people “We Care for You.”
Here are a few ways our company had fun while saying, “We Care for You.”
- Causal Fridays – Through-out the year, folks can wear jeans with a company shirt on Friday
- Chili cook-off – Employees compete for the best homemade chili. Many different categories: best decoration, best chili, hottest chili, best name.
- Spring Softball – Employees and spouses play on Albert sponsored team.
- Spring Golf Scramble – Employees, customers, and suppliers play for prizes.
- Summer Peak-Season Happy Fridays – Food and events including: Bahama Bucks Snow Cones, Egg on a Spoon Race, Root Beer Floats, Chocolate Fountains, Dessert Contest, Build Your Own Ice Cream Sundae, Water balloon Toss, Chair Massages, Water Gun Fights, Burger Cookout, End of Summer Junk Car Smashing, etc.
- Bowling and Burgers – Teams compete for best team names, and other fun prizes: Biggest Shoe, Loudest Dropped Ball, Best Gutter Ball, etc.
- Thanksgiving Potluck Lunch – Employees sign-up to bring their favorite dish.
- Kid’s Day – Children and grand-children of employees are invited to our business to see where mom or dad or a grand-parent works. Food, Games, and the Christmas Story is told.
- Poinsettias – Placed on each desk and throughout the company.
- Christmas Lunch – To celebrate the Season.
- Random Holiday Celebrations – National Donut Day, Chocolate Day, Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, etc.
As leaders, we have a great opportunity to shape our culture by the way we have fun with our team. You'll lead more effectively when you realize that having fun in the workplace refreshes your people and draws them together as a team.
I’ve learned that we must be intentional about our fun-making. Dr. Seuss puts it this way:
What about you? How do you have fun with your team? – Please leave a comment below. I’d love to learn how you have fun in your workplace!
PS: Here are links to the first six posts in this series on great workplace cultures.
- How to Win in the Marketplace
- Two Ways Leaders Can Improve Their Cultures
- How to Hire the Right People
- Are You Investing in Training and Development?
- 7 Ways You Can Up Your Communication Game
- The Secret Every Leader Needs to Know
 yourerc.com “HR Insights Blog” ERC (Employers Resource Council), 5-Sep-2013 (12-Aug-2014).