Wear something frivolous – every day if
appropriate. It doesn’t have to be visible: ‘naughty’
underwear, silly socks, etc. The fact that you have this on will
remind you not to take yourself so seriously.
Make this philosophy visible by having a
‘Dress for Fun Friday’ – just like a Casual Friday, except
staff have to add something specifically for fun – silly
earrings, bad ties, fun hats, etc.
Encourage staff to introduce fun into
their own work-space. Toys, stickers, photos, whatever will
lighten up their day. Don’t let ‘office neatness’ rules get
in the way – anything less that a safety hazard should be
allowed. The boss sets the example with a hat rack full of silly
hats and a Goofy soft toy sitting atop the computer screen. Follow
the same rule in areas where clients go. Who wants to deal with
people who don’t have a sense of humour?
Visit the toy store
Introduce fun into the workplace with
childish things. Look around your local toy store for anything
that could introduce fun to your meetings, staff interactions
(like lunch time) or just to make people smile.
Make meetings fun…at the start
Make humour a KPI of your meetings.
Boring meetings are the enemy of effective, creative communication
– ban them! Put ‘Opening humour’ down as the first agenda
item. Appoint a different person each meeting to start with a
joke, funny story, game – whatever they can to lighten the mood.
Give them a time limit, but that’s all! They need the permission
of management to be as creative, silly and irreverent as possible.
Make meetings fun…during proceedings
Make fun part of the proceedings. Hand
out noisemakers (hooters, whistles, clickers, etc) to all present
with the rule that you have to use your noisemaker before you
speak. Take votes with: "All those in favour, make your
noise." Have something silly that participants need to hold
or place in front of them before they make their contribution.
(This is also a great way to ensure that only one person speaks at
Make meetings fun…at the end
Appoint a person to end the meeting with
some humour. One way is to have them nominate certain meeting
members for frivolous ‘awards’ based on what happened during
the meeting. Some examples: Silliest Statement, Wittiest Comment,
Best Excuse, Most Imaginative Statement, Best/Worst Jargon. Finish
your meetings with a touch of humour and this is what people
remember as they leave – so they’ll be more willing to attend
the next meeting.
Have a fun library
Have a section next to the reference
books full of joke books, cartoon books (Dilbert, Calvin &
Hobbes, etc) and any other fun literature. Encourage staff to
borrow them for lunchtime reading, etc (Don’t let them leave the
office – or you’ll never see them again. Regularly add to it.
The discount tables at bookstores have loads of cheap material.
Have fun with logos and signs
Have a contest to design a fun logo for
each department; and, if appropriate, put it up. Enlarge relevant
cartoons and place them next to the instructional and safety signs
– and have people notice signs that, in the past, they ignored.
Reward funny staff
The best co-worker is one who doesn’t
take themselves too seriously and is prepared to laugh at (and
learn from) their mistakes. Instigate a monthly award for the
silliest mistake made by staff – with a cash prize. The rules:
staff can only nominate themselves and have to stand up and tell
other staff what they did and how they will spend the money. The
prize is awarded to the staff member who (a) made the biggest
mistake (b) is most honest about their mistake or (c) nominates
the most creative way they will spend the money to help them avoid
the same mistake again or compensate any aggrieved party.
Examples: A salesperson makes an impossible promise about delivery
dates to a leading client and will spend the prize money to ‘shout’
the despatch department; a staff member forgets his 1st
wedding anniversary and will use the money to take his wife to
Let staff get to know each other
Have a regular (monthly) function where
staff get to know each other as people, not just in their
work roles. When you understand more about a person, there are
more opportunities for humour in your interactions with that
person. Simply giving the staff off-work time together will create
these opportunities; although you could introduce some fun ‘contests’
like those described below. It could be a Friday after-work
barbecue, or just a few drinks. Do not be tempted to use the
occasion for business announcements – this will defeat the
As part of these regular functions, or,
as a stand-alone event there are a lot of non-threatening fun
contests that can build rapport, camaraderie and teamwork. They
will provide material for staff-generated humour for a long time
after the contest. The prize for the winner does not have to be
significant – a $20 trophy will do the job.
Hold a karaoke contest. Entrants could be
individuals or groups. If karaoke is too expensive or difficult to
organise, make it a mime or air guitar contest. All you’ll need
is a portable CD player and, perhaps, some pretend microphones.
Hold a paper plane contest, the winner
being the person to have their plane fly the furthest.
Encourage staff to show appreciation
Have slips of paper (or a page in the
intranet) entitled "Staff Appreciation Award –
Nomination". Encourage staff to nominate other staff if they
do something good: going out of their way for a customer or other
staff member, etc. You could have a monthly award chosen from all
the nominees; or simply give everyone nominated a small reward.
For example, book a mobile masseur (one of the ones who does 15
minute backrubs at the desk) and give them all a massage.
Have a baby pictures contest
Get a baby picture of a number of staff
and award a prize for whoever can correctly name all of the
babies. The contest could run over some time (two weeks)
generating humour along the way.
Have a childhood secrets contest.
Have staff write down one thing from
their childhood that would not be known to others. Have a contest
similar to the one above. Again, over the time of the contest,
much humour will be generated as staff try to guess who was the
one who painted the cat pink, or who won the religious studies
prize in grade 6.
© 2008 Kevin Ryan
Other articles: In-Flight
Fun Fun in 'The Fridge' Hospitality
Humour It's like baking a cake! Training
These are examples
of the value of humour in business, the subject of my keynote
presentation "Bottom-Line Humour – making fun a profit
factor". I also conduct training seminars for staff in Humour in