What Does Having Fun at Work Mean and Why Is It So Important?
Today is April 1. You may associate today with a prank-filled custom, but a company named Playfair redesigned the day based on the belief that employees having a fun and relaxed environment are more productive and effective in their assignments when compared to employees in a rigid workplace. In fact, they celebrated the first International Fun at Work Day on April 1, 1996. There are several benefits and advantages to having fun at work. Rhett Power includes them in his Inc. article “10 Reasons Why It Is Important to Create a Happy Workplace.”
Imagine it’s Wednesday. “Hump Day,” as some call it—the hump we all get over to make it to Friday. In TCU’s Housing & Residential Life, it’s Wednesday Jam Day. It’s the day that third-year hall director, Reece Harty, of Clark Hall, encourages his staff and colleagues across campus to take a moment for a “quick rock session” to get back into the groove of the week.
Harty sends an email each Wednesday with a link to an upbeat song or music video for that week’s theme song. This simple idea focused on keeping spirits lively, stemmed from a joke that began when COVID-19 increased losing personal connections. The first song was inspired by the iconic lyric “Whoa, we’re halfway there,” from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer.”
Harty says, “We can still work and get things accomplished while having fun.” He believes that as we continue to return to normal, we’re still human, and this is a way to let each other know we value each other no matter our role on campus.
Having a balance between the daily grind and stress is essential to building a culture that inspires employees to take joy in their work. Managers who encourage their teams to enjoy their jobs inspire dedication.
In athletics, culture is key. Meredith Montgomery, assistant athletic director for baseball administration and Erin Brown, director of athletic compliance, are part of their culture committee. The culture committee provides volunteers for events and activities such as the welcome committee, which involves taking new hires to lunch and a campus tour.
Every other month they have an all-staff meeting with lunch. Montgomery says, “It’s nice to get together and talk to other athletic team members.” They also “invite each other to sporting activities, which is an opportunity to support all the hard work athletics is doing.”
With so many events already in place, it’s easy to send out a quick invite to help bring in the fun.
Attending campus activities is a great way to bring fun to the TCU workplace. Through various activities, large and small, Brie Diamond, the criminal justice department chair, and Kendra Bowen, the criminal justice graduate director, work to let their team know they are thankful for them.
The criminal justice team has worked to build a fun culture for several years. Still, recently, it’s become more noticeable how grateful they all are for the positive gestures. They take pride in showing TCU’s faculty and students they care.
“I spend a good amount of time preparing for these activities by reading books on team building and leadership, asking questions of experienced colleagues, and outlining a plan for our time together,” says Diamond. She’s been chair since June 2021 but has been “working to improve office culture after spending so much time isolated from each other during COVID.”
Because social events take longer to plan, Diamond and Bowen also give small gifts and thank you notes to faculty to show appreciation, most of which take a short time to do. Bowen says, “culture-building not only helps create a work environment where people are happy to show up, it ultimately benefits our students.”
Just recently, the HR team had a “Wear Your Favorite Sneakers Day!” shoe fashion show where people wore their favorite sneakers, plus shared the story behind their shoes. The event was inspired by a team chat about how many sneakerheads are in the department and took less than an hour to plan and execute.
Building positive team cultures is important for TCU’s long-term workplace health. Achieving this takes leader intentionality and often requires dedicating small chunks of time a week. Happiness is contagious, and when encouraged, it can spread across the entire campus. A sense of fun equals a positive mindset and leads to open, honest discussions that build trust.
Looking for some fun! Harness humor and bring people together with some LinkedIn Learning's Humor in the Workplace course.
What does your team do for fun? Share your fun culture-building activities with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s all spread the joy campus-wide.