It’s Monday morning. It’s 07.00. As you swing your legs out of bed to start another week, what motivates you to go to work? What presses your buttons? What lights up your lights?
We’ve had lots of answers to that question over the years… “It pays the bills…”, “I feel obliged”, “It gets me away from the partner and kids” and my all-time favourite, “It’s a viable alternative to daytime television” are amongst the negative ones.
But we also get some great positive ones – “My work is always interesting and challenging”, “I really feel part of a team at work” and, every now and then… “My workplace is just great FUN!”
Try putting the word FUN in the same sentence as the word WORK and see what kind of response you get from Bosses! The initial responses we often get when raising the subject range from the patronising, “I don’t really think that will work here” to the verging on apoplectic, McEnroe-esque, “You can NOT be serious!”
There is something almost akin to the Darkside when linking FUN and WORK – we can almost hear Yoda saying to Luke Skywalker, “Good Manager he was, until work and fun brought together he did!”
Most Managers can think of a thousand reasons not to even think about, let alone DO anything about encouraging FUN in the workplace – the most common being, “It’s called work for a reason, Alan. And what has FUN got to do with business anyway?” Ironically it has EVERYTHING to do with business and, in particular, YOUR business!
So in the first of this occasional series on FUN we’re going to look at the effect of FUN on your health
Our definition of FUN includes words like rewarding; exciting; energising; motivating; creative and successful – and these six words and FUN are not mutually exclusive. In fact it would be hard to find any of those six strengths existing in an organisation without FUN being present in fairly large quantities!
Essentially FUN is about doing anything that you and your colleagues will find enjoyable, entertaining, amusing, motivating, energising, creative or success-generating.
The benefits for your health alone are worth the investment, especially when more and more research demonstrates that the need for FUN is hardwired into our systems and has a biological impact on the body.
The results of recent research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which involved measuring the differences between people’s reaction when watching a fun movie versus a violent movie, showed that the application of “fun” activities produced a measurable change in moods: incidences of depression fell by 51%, confusion went down by 36%, anger fell by 19%, fatigue by 15% and tension by 9%
The research demonstrates that even anticipating something funny reduces the levels of at least four of the neuroendocrine hormones associated with stress.
And that same mental stress constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow. Laughter, however, causes the blood vessels to expand, increasing blood flow.
All the known science seems to corroborate the old saying: “Serious as a heart attack!”
Or perhaps a better way to end Part 1 is to remember that laughter really IS the best medicine!
In part 2 we’ll have a look at the effect of FUN on teams and teamwork, but until then KEEP SMILING!