This week, we’re talking with author and consultant Leslie Yerkes. Last week, I shared some of the principles she sets forth in her book, Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.). This week, we get to hear from Leslie (I know: great name, right?) herself. Here is part two of a Q&A:
Q: Can you offer three strategies that companies can implement to increase employee and customer retention?
A: Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work has a framework of eleven principles for finding the fusion of fun/work. A fun work culture is not created by “doing” events but more by how individuals behave while they are doing their work.
The first four “being” principles are:
1. Give Permission to Perform: Allow individuals to bring the best of their whole selves to work each day. To be effective, this principle requires a superb, confident leader. Strong leadership is essential to organizational well being. The leader creates the vision, sets the tone for the journey, and holds the value that only by integrating fun and work can the best results be achieved.
2. Challenge Your Bias: Remove self-imposed obstacles to the release of your full being. Our bias against having fun at work prevents work from being an enjoyable experience. Our belief that ‘when work is done we can have some fun’ is the strongest obstacle we face.
3. Capitalize on the Spontaneous: This is not a program but a philosophy. Fun doesn’t necessarily happen on schedule; it grows in a culture that fosters its existence.
4. Trust the Process: You can’t muscle energy. A laugh that is forced is not a true laugh. Americans are experts at task orientation: We thrive on to-do lists. We need help, however, with process orientation: we need to trust our people and trust the process and then stand out of the way.
Q: Clearly, having fun on the job isn’t always easy due to factors beyond our control, things that are occurring outside the workplace like recession, national (and international) tragedies, even natural disasters. How can companies continue to thrive with those influences at work, especially with the distractions of 24/7 news reports that employees can access on their computers?
A: The organization that understands that in both the good and difficult times that maintaining a culture of trust and respect is essential to the long term well being and success of the company. When times are tough it is easy to get lost in doing only the tactical activities of business. Doing the right ‘what’ is key to survival but also being aware of ‘how’ we are doing the right ‘what’ in our relationships will carry us through the harder times to celebrate the better times. Remembering to maintain this balance is the formula for success.