A ‘fun workplace’ may sound like an oxymoron. Traditionally, work is not supposed to be fun. After all, work is a four-letter word.
Yet research on motivation leaves little doubt that your most productive employees are the ones who enjoy being at work. The benefits of office fun are plentiful - improved patient care and service, increased job satisfaction and employee loyalty, stimulated creativity and profitability! Happy employees are more likely to accept ownership of their responsibilities, and much more inclined to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes. Attracting patients is easier in an environment of hospitality.
Now ask yourself: Is working at your office about as exciting as watching paint dry? Are you often serious and stern? Do you deal with people as if there is a state of mourning inside your office? If so, it’s time to adjust your fun quotient. You CAN create a more jovial office environment and still mean business in real terms. Here are some ways.
• Take yourself lightly.
Remember, as a leader, people look to you to set the tone for the office. You have the power to decide whether you're going to be a roadblock on the inspiration highway or a catalyst for positive energy.
Too many leaders fall victim to "professionalism". The symptoms include a furrowed brow, high levels of stress, and blocked creativity. Learn to take yourself lightly, while still taking your job seriously. By laughing at yourself, you demonstrate your humanity and openness, and you encourage others to do the same. As an added bonus, you take away others’ ability to laugh at you.
• Appreciate good humor when it happens.
Funny things occur all the time, but if you are obsessed with left-brain analytical thought, you might find it hard to stop and respond. Laughter increases oxygen, endorphins, and blood flow to the brain. Employees who are in good spirits think more clearly and make better decisions. They are more accepting of others. Laughter creates a bond that brings people together.
• Plan a fun office activity at least once a month.
There’s no substitute for spending time together. Schedule affordable social events. Go to a bowling alley during lunch. See a movie. Organize pot-luck meals, arcade outings or rousing paintball skirmishes (preferably not in the office). Camaraderie generated will spill over into the job. If possible, include family members in some of these types of activities.
• Look for tools to circulate fun and funny things daily.
Collect and share your favorite cartoons and jokes. Create a Joke Board or a Humor Newsletter. Put fun things and activities in the staff room. This allows people to take their mind off of the seriousness of the job for a short period, so they come back to work with a more positive and balanced perspective. Stock the staff room with “fun” toys such as Silly Putty, building blocks, Slinky, Nerf balls, foam darts, a basketball hoop, butcher paper and crayons or markers.
• Let patients know you are a fun dental office.
Organize fun events, dress for fun, share funny things with patients. Give employees tools to create a fun relationship with patients stickers for children, dog biscuits for their pets, humorous buttons with your practice logo. This makes work more fun plus it strengthens patient loyalty. Print fun greeting cards for employees to give to patients and vendors.
• Gather your staff for the “Joy of Work” meeting.
Everyone must talk about something good at work. Take turns telling stories about the things that make work a joy. Each person should contribute ideas on how to make work more fun.
• Have a fun recognition program.
Fun is not a reward for performance, but it can be a way to encourage employees to perform. For example, you could create “games” out of productive activity…who can influence the most patients to smile and say something funny. Playful and goal-oriented fun is best.
Even bad news can be delivered in a more fun way to lessen the negativity of the information. If you need to remind staff or patients with signs, then word them in a fun and humorous way. For example, instead of posting a negative sign such as, “If you don’t fill out your time sheets you don’t get paid,” try wording it in a humorous way. “If you love your job so much you don’t want us to pay you, then don’t fill out your timesheet.”
• Be sincere.
If you show up Monday morning with a transplanted Robin Williams persona, staff will be cynical about your newfound attempts to lighten the office mood. Be yourself. Practice your own brand of humor. Start slowly with a few activities and communicate your desire to create a more relaxed workplace. Don’t expect things to turn around over night.
Still, beware: As silly as it sounds, on-the-job fun needs to be taken seriously. It's good only in moderation and in appropriate form (non-sexist, non-racist, non-religious humor). Taken to extremes, it can hinder productivity. But if you put fun into your practice wisely, you’ll be laughing...all the way to the bank.
If you need a ‘fun injection’, contact me at Coach@Mckenziemgmt.com