Growth Strata•Gems Magazine Growth Strata•Gems Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 12

MORE FUN = MORE $$$ A More Fun = More $$$ fter he’d removed the previous leadership team and stepped back into the CEO role, P. John Aldred, the founder of Enerflex Systems, lamented to me that for weeks he’d looked in vain to find someone, anyone, who was having fun in their job. John’s belief was that business had to be fun for the people who worked there and only after they were having fun, would good results follow. An experienced and practical leader, he attributed Enerflex’s poor performance over the previous couple of years to a culture that wasn’t fun. His belief was proven right because after he successfully improved the culture, Enerflex started growing again. Interestingly, John’s belief in the role fun plays in the workplace has been validated by more than two decades of research. This research shows that when companies make their workplace fun, they create happier employees who, in turn, are better at their jobs. Surprisingly, workplace fun has been linked to higher productivity and task performance, sort 12 | FALL 2017 of the opposite of what many leaders expect. Less surprising is that having fun enhances employee motivation, reduces stress, and creates higher job satisfaction. The research shows that there are significant benefits to having a fun workplace, and that fun and productivity are not opposites; they can and do go together. Also interesting is that John worked to restore the culture as a necessary first step to improving the business results. He didn’t demand good results with the intention of improving the culture once he got the results. He understood the difference between results and the drivers of results, and that a company needed to work on the drivers before expecting to achieve the results. His belief that a positive culture is a driver of positive results has been proven in many studies. So, given the research linking workplace fun with productivity and positive financial outcomes, why don’t more companies intentionally create a fun work environment? One reason is that leaders often see work as serious, and workplace fun as frivolous and therefore the opposite of what work is. They think fun in the workplace means foosball tables and goofing off. But fun means more than such a narrow, simplistic definition. People also have fun when they’re doing great work, when they’re succeeding and having an impact on something they care about. In fact, the hope they could do great work and have fun is why they chose to work at your company. From the leaders of traditional companies like GE to the leaders of high tech companies like Google and Amazon, all recognize workplace fun as important. They simply adapt their tactics according to what they feel will work for them. So, with that broader definition of workplace fun, here are some suggestions on how you can inject it into your company. MAKE HAVING FUN A CORE BELIEF OF THE COMPANY. Zappos is famous for having