When chatting with friends and business partners, I keep listening the same complain – “Well, I like my job, though it’s not funny anymore”! When asking, why is it? I receive almost always same answer, “to be taken seriously, in my job I need to be focused, and serious all the time!”. And that answer confuses me a lot, because I strongly believe that having fun while working has nothing to do with being focused, or be taken seriously by others. Having fun is one of the reasons why people stay motivated and wanting to excel. Why then corporations and managers try to inhibit employees of having fun while working? I believe that the reason is connected to the idea that it is impossible to have fun and do hard work at same time. What is in my opinion wrong, and a preconception instead! A preconception that it is costing millions to companies in retaining and motivating talent. In a time where uniqueness, innovation are as key as talent management to thrive in the business world, I believe that the ‘how one should work and play her role within a company’ should be rethought in order to better aim 21st century ‘s reality and challenges ahead.
Having fun while working does not imply being less focused or the lack of professionalism. In an environment that privileges ‘milking the cow as soon as possible, and with the higher profits possible’, it is complicated to have companies built to attract and keep talent for more than a couple of years. In my perspective, running a business with a ‘squeeze oranges’ mentality leads only to immediateness, forgetting the medium and long term. Attracting talented people is a key aspect when starting a company, though keeping it in-house, motivated, and willing to excel it is the toughest part of the challenge of starting or managing a company in the 21st century. In order to build a strong company, one needs to a build it as a real challenge, and find the unique ingredients that lead to success. However, to build a strong team for that company, one needs a corporate cultural that stimulates and allows people to do different, creative, and meaningful stuff. And having fun is an ingredient that should be present, and stimulated.
Companies should nurture a culture of meritocracy, where having fun can be positive and bring competitiveness. How? Well, if you are having fun you are probably happier, and therefore you have a higher predisposition to be creativity, inventive, and more productive. The trick part is to build up a corporate culture that allows and stimulates the ‘right’ (right is highly subjective, and depends on the social and cultural aspects of the environment where the company works) positive behaviors that lead to better results.
Being irresponsible, not focused, not productive, or acting as a free-rider are behaviors one can find regardless the corporate culture and that should be condemned but also understood in order to avoid and prevent them! It also happens that sometimes these same condemnable behaviors arise due to a inappropriate corporate culture or unfit leadership.
The ability of having fun while working can definitely be considered as a important factor when analyzing a company for its competitiveness! It is something that some companies can stimulate and other cannot! What kind of company do you want to work for, or start up?