Forced fun is a well-established workplace trend, and it’s driving Grant McCracken and me bonkers!
“Call me a grinch. Call me a humorless, life-hating, stick in the mud, but commandeering personal emotions in the interest of forced conviviality seems to me wrong,” wrote McCracken yesterday on the Harvard Business Review’s The Conversation blog, “I believe emotions are mostly a private matter and should not be controlled by the corporation.”
Few, if any, people want to work for a stuffy, humorless organization, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy working for one where they are expected to have a mandated amount of fun at set times in a prescribed manner. Also, people don’t enjoy being told what is and is not fun.
Not so long ago, I worked for a company that had “fun” in its mission statement. And guess what: It was the least fun place I had ever worked. Seriously. Not that they didn’t have some nice perks. I love cheap soda, free coffee and a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack, but those things do not make for a rip-roaring good time.
I admit, it’s hard to set out to create fun in the workplace — partly because everyone has a different definition of fun and partly because it’s just difficult to create fun at work without making it seem forced and contrived.
At another place I worked, our department had an annual summer outing. For a few years, it was a workday afternoon trip to see the local Major League Baseball team play. Not only did we get out of work, but we got good seats and a $20 gift certificate to spend on snacks. Moreover, the big bosses were using their money to buy beer, so the rest of us were comfortable doing the same. For me, that was a lot of fun! But not so much for some of my colleagues.
After complaining by the people who did not find that outing to be a good time, the day evolved into a variety of choices — baseball, bowling or a museum — in the hopes of satisfying the masses. It helped, but some people still weren’t having fun. Those people later got the choice to stay in the office and work.
I liked that solution. It allowed the people who wanted to get out and do something to do just that. For people who weren’t into it, they could just carry on and save their fun for after work.
Do you force your employees to have fun?
Image credit, PeskyMonkey via iStock