Fun in the workplace is more than bull—-!

As a speaker, coach and consultant to leaders and organizations across the country, I’m amazed that the top two complaints have not changed one bit.

The most frequent complaint is “You can do a hundred things right and not hear a darn thing about it.”

And the second complaint is “The fun is gone.”

Now fun might seem like a rather unimportant topic to address, but during the time of the Great Resignation, where it’s extremely difficult to find and keep the talent you need, you had better make your workplace a fun place to work or your workplace may cease to exist.

One of my clients, the highly successful Laser Quest company, talks about fun as one of the secrets of their success. They say, “It may seem frivolous, but when members of a team have fun, it helps reduce negative stress, encourages creative thinking and makes group members more adaptable to change.”

They’re right. A truly effective team not only gets the job done but has some fun in the process.

I’ve found that the following three tips have helped my clients put more fun in the workplace while it retains their best employees.

What can you do to make sure your team has more fun? Send them to my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program. That’s what Mark Pufundt, the Chair of the Institute for Management Studies, did. He wrote:

“Thanks for a GREAT two days at your Journey. You’re the BEST! Your scores from our members were ‘over the top.’ And now Allstate wants to bring you in to present the same program for them. Ms. Marisela from Allstate said, ‘I thought Dr. Zimmerman was phenomenal. I can’t wait to share my experience with my team’.”


Register now for the last public offering of my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program being delivered on March 31-April 1, 2022. Register by tomorrow, Wednesday, February 9th, and save $500 on your tuition.

► 1. Look for the humor in misunderstanding.

It’s so easy to get upset when people don’t understand you. After all, time is wasted and feelings get hurt inadvertently.

Instead, when you discover some breakdown in communication, look for the humor. Make a joke about it.

It’s like the fellow who got a job painting the stripe down the middle of the road. He painted ten miles the first day but only five miles the second. The boss thought his new worker must have had a rough day, so he let it slide. He didn’t say anything until he noticed that his painter only completed two miles on his third day at work. He asked what was going on.

His painter said there was an easy explanation. Every day he got further away from the bucket.

► 2. Use your imagination.

Some teams will use crazy contests to spice things up. Others might post baby pictures of their team members and guess who is who.

Still others will get involved in some games or activities that are not only fun but require some cooperation.

Use your imagination. What can your team do that might be a bit different but also fun and playful?

Barbara Bock wrote about the use of imagination as she tried to help her daughters develop an appreciation for nature. So she took them camping.

After they arrived at the campsite and the gear was unloaded, Barbara said they all set to work. Her husband had the girls gather pine needles to make soft “beds.” And all together they brought rocks to form a circle in the cool stream where they placed their perishables. That, she explained, would be their “refrigerator.” Finally, they made a “stove” by making a ring of stones topped with a grate.

The girls were excited and impressed. The 5-year-old smiled at her father and asked, “If we get more rocks, Daddy, will you make a TV?

► 3. Spice up your meetings.

Even though meetings are made for work, many of them do not work. They’re often boring, tedious, and repetitious, as well as a huge waste of time. That’s why one person said, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.”

I could write a book on how to hold more effective meetings, but for our purposes today, I just want you to think about how you can make your meetings more fun. It could be as simple as bringing treats to share with others or telling a funny story you just heard.

I like humorist Dave Barry’s idea as to how to handle team members who fall asleep in a meeting. He said, “Have everybody leave the room. Then collect a group of total strangers, from right off the street, and have them sit around the sleeping person and stare at him until he wakes up. Then, have one of them say to him, in a very somber voice, ‘Bob, your plan is very, very, risky, but you’ve given us no choice but to try it. I only hope, for your sake, that you know what the heck you’re getting yourself into.’ Then have the strangers file quietly out of the room”

Of course, I’m not recommending Dave’s idea, but it’s fun to think about how it might work. People would never fall asleep in a meeting again.

Bob Nohren from The Energy Conservatory Bike Shop sent me this idea after I spoke at a meeting for his professional association. Bob asked, somewhat tongue in cheek, “Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? Do you feel tired and unmotivated? Do you find yourself daydreaming of anything and everything during the work day? Well here’s a way to change all of that.”

Before (or during) your next meeting, prepare yourself by drawing a square. Divide the card into columns — five across and five down. That will give you 25 one-inch blocks.

Write such words or phrases in each block.

· Synergy

· Strategic fit

· Core competencies

· Best practice

· Bottom line

· Re-visit

· Take that off line

· 24/7

· Out of the loop

· Benchmark

· Value-added

· Proactive

· Win-win

· Think outside the box

· Fast track

· Empower

· Engagement

· At the end of the day

· Touch base

· Mindset

· Client focused

· Paradigm

· Game plan

· Leverage

· Downsize

· Outsource

  • Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words/phrase.
  • When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout “Bull….”

Of course it sounds silly. But does it work? Here’s what a few satisfied “Bull…. Bingo” players have to say.

“I had been in the meeting for only five minutes when I won.” – Jack W., Boston

“My attention span at meetings has improved dramatically.” – David D., Miami

“The atmosphere was tense in the last process meeting as 14 of us waited for the fifth box.” – Ben G., Denver

“The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed ‘Bull….!’ for the third time in two hours.” – Kathleen L., Atlanta

It would take some guts to actually do it but it would be fun. Go ahead and think of some ways to spice up your meetings.