Fun: The Most Powerful, Underutilized Recruitment Strategy

All my life, I’ve lived by the motto that “No one can outwork me.” Oh sure, there may be smarter people, richer people, stronger people, luckier people, and prettier people than me, but “No one can outwork me.”

That motto has served me very well, personally and professionally. And as a result, I’ve had enormous successes and awesome blessings come my way.

But I think it’s time to amend the motto. When I see the disruption in the economy, with labor shortages everywhere, you may not be able to find enough people who are internally motivated to work, work, work. And it’s going to take more than the mere raising of wages or clever social media campaigns to recruit and retain the talent you need.

I would contend that you have to make your organization a place where people want to come, want to stay, and want to give their very best. And your most powerful, underutilized strategy to make that happen might be as simple as putting more FUN in your workplace.

Here are five strategies you can start with:

► 1. Believe in FUN.

Indeed, fun might be the ultimate motivator in today’s world. Take a look at your kids, for example.

When you want them to do something, their level of interest and motivation is almost always in direct correlation to how fun it sounds.

Indeed, fun might be the ultimate motivator in today’s world. Take a look at your kids, for example. When you want them to do something, their level of interest and motivation is almost always in direct correlation to how fun it sounds.

Well, the people at work aren’t much different. In many ways, adults are just babies in big bodies. When they think about the tasks in front of them, they’re always wondering how fun it’s going to be. If they think it’s going to be lots of fun, you’ll see lots of commitment and motivation. If they don’t think it’s going to be fun, they’re revising their resumes.

Fun is much more than some fluffy nicety without any bottom-line consequences. As human potential expert Dale Carnegie says, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”

So believe in fun. It’s good for your organization, and it’s good for the people in your organization.

Fun is good for you physically. There’s plenty of research evidence that shows fun releases natural pain-killing, good-feeling endorphins into your body. And as author Matt Weinstein says, “If you take yourself too seriously, there’s a good chance you’ll end up seriously ill.”

Fun and laugher are also good for you emotionally. They reduce the negative impact of the stressors in your life. As I tell people, very few people on their deathbed will say they should have attended more meetings, made more money, or spent more time at the office. But a lot of people will say they should have laughed more, smiled more, and had more fun.

► 2. Look for FUN.

Fun is everywhere. You can find it or make it. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Matt Weinstein, the author of Play Fair, gives one example. He says you could have a slice of cheese cake delivered to a friend’s house or hotel room … in the middle of the night. Attach a note that says, “Thinking of you. Are you thinking of me?” You don’t even have to sign your note. Let them use their imagination.

You need to be on the lookout for fun. I am. While in California, I read Chuck Thomas’ column in the Ventura County Star. He said:

A pessimist’s blood type is always B-negative. Practice safe eating — always use condiments. A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother. Shotgun wedding: A case of wife or death. Is a book on voyeurism a peeping tome? Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? A successful diet is the triumph of mind over platter.

So look for FUN. It’s out there, all around you every day.

What kind of FUN things are you seeing at work? If you’re not seeing much, go out and make some.


► 3. Review the Fun.

To recruit and retain top talent, one of the things you can do is take some time to review the fun you’ve had over the years or throughout the course of a project. Sure, there might have been hard times, but even those things might bring smiles and laughter in retrospect. Talk about the “good old times.”

You’ve got to review the fun. And I don’t care how difficult your job has been or how COVID disrupted everything or how bad the supply chain is. You’ve had some fun along the way. You simply may not remember it. As W. N. Rieger says, “Much unhappiness results from our inability to remember the nice things that happen to us.”

The same thing goes for a family. Nothing is more bonding than sharing your funny stories from the past. Some of your stories have even become classics that can be told over and over again.

Such was the case with my wife Chris. Working in intensive care and the emergency room she often had a stethoscope on the car seat. One day, when daughter Sara was on the way to preschool, she picked it up and began playing with it. Chris thought, “Great. My daughter wants to follow in my footsteps.” Just then Sara spoke into the stethoscope, “Welcome to McDonalds. May I take your order?” That’s a story that gets reviewed every once in a while.

You and your organization probably need more fun. Go for it … now!