In Defense of Fun in the Workplace

When my father-in-law met my younger brother for the first time, he asked him what he did professionally. My brother, in between jobs at the time, replied – half-jokingly – “I have fun.”

If only life could be so simple, right? Imagine, going into work every day, and having that be your description of work: it’s FUN! But no, this is not the way of the world. Someone else once told me years ago, after listening to me complain about my first entry-level job, that if work were supposed to be fun, it would be called “fun,” not “work.” That stuck with me- but not in the way it’s fatalistic benefactor had intended.

So is that it, then? Living by the sweat of one’s brow in the hopes of someday being happy, AFTER work is over? Really? As Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction: “Well, allow me to retort!”

Even before I worked in corporate event entertainment – heck, before I started working, period – I recognized the value of injecting fun into the workplace. I remember going into offices as a kid with my parents, and thinking: “man, this looks so BORING!” And you know what? It was. This didn’t change when I was doing office temp work in high school, or working at the store over breaks in college, and certainly didn’t abate once I entered the workforce proper after graduating. Why, I’d wonder, can’t work also be fun?

Think about it: if employees are having fun – not necessarily in their work duties (though this doesn’t hurt), but at least in their interactions with each other – won’t they be happier? Won’t they be more productive? Won’t they feel a stronger sense of attachment and commitment to their jobs, resulting in increased output  and more pride in their results? Doesn’t a happy workforce naturally lend itself to boosting morale, creating a better work environment and thus better performance?

The authors of FISH! recognized this in their extremely popular book on workplace productivity, gleaned from hours observing workers at Seattle’s “World Famous” Pike Place Fish Market. If you’ve been there, it’s an amazing sight: big, burly fisherman, working with ice-cold seafood and dripping with rancid fish guts, are happily singing, cheering, and tossing fish into the air at each other. Why? Because otherwise, their jobs would be HORRIBLE, that’s why! Yet, there they are: excited, enthused, demonstrating teamwork and pride in their jobs. After watching for only a minute, one can’t help but feel a pang of jealously, thinking: “I wish I could work here…”


I think you CAN work there- not literally of course, but you can certainly inject fun into your workplace. Sure, work is serious: we need to be professional, productive and respectful of company time, money and reputation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have FUN while we do it.

Please share your thoughts on this. If you are a business owner, HR professional or manager, please let us know: what’s keeping you from making your workplace fun?


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