By Kirstin Karoub
How many times did you hear that popular exclamation this month? April Fool’s Day has people either excited with mirth and merriment, wracked with anxiety, or somewhere in between. The day is one of pranks, practical jokes, and stories that range from little white lies to tall tales of grandiose proportions.
One year, when my three daughters were younger, they really wanted to “get” their dad. They emptied all his clothing drawers and relocated his coffee. They didn’t want to leave him hanging completely out on a limb, so they left him clues for finding his very necessary items.
He wasn’t amused.
He’s not a morning person and being bereft of clean boxers and coffee left him in no mood to decipher riddles for finding them. We finally took pity on him and helped him find the coffee – priorities, after all. It put him in a much better mood to find the missing clothing.
The Family that Plays Together Stays Together
A good eight years have passed since that April Fool’s prank, and we still look back on that fondly – even my husband. The girls recognize the strategy, creativity and teamwork that pulled them together toward a common goal. They talk about the shared trust that nobody (even the preschooler) would let the cat out of the bag prematurely.
They find humor in dad’s early-morning dependence on coffee. They empathize with his position as the target and commend him for being a good sport. It teaches everybody about resiliency – that it’s OK to laugh at yourself.
Most of all, we recognize the sacred family bond of compassion – nobody would let the joke go past the point of fun for all. We knew when it was time to lend a helping hand to find the coffee.
Teamwork, creativity, trust, empathy, compassion, levity – all are fostered by sharing fun, laughter, and even downright silliness. Letting loose brings people closer together and builds positive connections by lightening the impact of potentially awkward or stressful situations.
These concepts apply to the workplace, too.
Think of your team, department, or a group of favorite co-workers. How often have you thought of them as a family, in terms of your daily interaction, how much time you spend together?
All Work and No Play…
Companies that infuse the workplace with fun and levity see a link to higher productivity levels. It only stands to reason that employees with positive attitudes, a heightened sense of trust and support, and positive co-worker interactions are more productive.
These employees also experience higher job satisfaction, better morale, lower burnout, and less turnover.
Fun breeds stronger relationships and better business results.
This article examines the effect of fun and levity in the workplace. The authors spoke with Amy Lyman, co-founder of Great Place to Work Institute, which provides the data behind Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.
The lesson? Companies should be looking for ways to have more fun.
How might a company do this, exactly?
Make Fun at Work
One of our clients, Special Tree, has earned a Top Workplace Award for nine years running from the Detroit Free Press. They recognized the effects of employee burnout and implemented company policy requiring employees to participate in 15 hours of personal enrichment and training activities annually.
One such activity is an art therapy for stress program, provided by a behavioral specialist and licensed art therapist. Employees taking part in the class take a break from work stress and tap into their creative side.
More than just a stress-reliever, it also helps participants bond, form closer relationships and get to know each other better as they share feelings through art.
Team building doesn’t have to involve major initiatives. It can be as easy as a walk in the park – which is an outing our Your People team is looking forward to next month.
As spring approaches and we emerge from a busy first quarter, our team will go for a hike through the grounds of Cranbrook.
These outings give us time to chat, discover, explore, breathe in fresh air, soak in sunshine, and connect with each other in a different way, as we disconnect from the ever-present workload. We have also unwound during a yoga class and bonded over a lengthy, relaxed brunch.
Our firm values meaningful connections. We constantly seek ways to build and cultivate relationships, whether it be with our clients, for our clients, or through our own efforts such as our Make Meaning podcast, our monthly newsletter, or this weekly blog.
We know that positive relationships start with us internally. We strive to be the best team we can be to help others build business, tell impactful stories, foster mutually beneficial relationships, and pursue higher purpose.
What do you do to create a place where your work family plays together and stays together? Drop us a note.
Kirstin Karoub is Vice President, Operations & Strategy, for Your People LLC.