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When fun at work is no fun at all

January 7, 2010

The last 18 months continue to teach some very important lessons in human resource management. There was a time when fun at work was a strong means for achieving employee engagement. It is still perceived to be so. However I am beginning to see that this works only beyond a certain threshold of employee engagement or the belongingness to the organisation.

Social events, fun at work etc lose meaning if they can not be supported by a larger business context in which everyone is striving to grow. In the absence of growth and positivism, the social events are quite lackluster. When they lose engagement they also get detached from the organisation and when organisations reach this level, you need to bring back the other elements that drive engagement. The most being positivism, growth and a sense of control over ones future.

Only the business leadership can help drive this through ‘talking’ positivism into the organisation. They need to be able to show a future that has opportunities and growth. Leadership today is more critical than even for organisational sustenance and growth.

Fun at work can catalyze engagement only when the engagement is already at a certain level. Nothing is more important for employee engagement than growth opportunities and progress. Fun at work is fun only when there is fun to work.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. howiejk permalink
    January 7, 2010 11:45 pm

    Good post – with the focus of so many organisations today being on cutting or offshoring or rationalising it is difficult to see how positivity, let alone fun can play any sort of role. Almost every organisation I know espouses fun as a value (or the value that would have made it to the list if we had one more…yeah right), but guess what, fun is the first thing to go.

    Leadership is everything. Leaders need to be seen to explain how difficult times will exist within a longer term positive vision – tough times are part of life.

    Where people are lost they need to treat them properly with respect but at the same time not forget those left behind and be ready to celebrate successes when the business turns the corner.

    Is this any different to what we’ve always said?

  2. January 8, 2010 11:26 am

    Thanks for the comments. Nothing much is never said before these days but definitely reinforced.

    These have been difficult times but now that we seem to be turning the corner, organisations are perhaps better off now to give that positive vision you have talked about. If we keep delaying and the recovery continues, it may be detrimental for the organisations otherwise.

  3. Santosh permalink
    January 20, 2010 4:18 pm

    Hi Hasan,
    Thought provoking…………..With limited knowledge i feel that fun at work / events only work to some extent towards team building but it is does not play much role in employee engagement.

    Fun at work does not invoke the feeling of above and beyond in employees,it is taken for granted that such events have to happen in organisations,in some organisation employees feel that it is there right .

    Employee engagement starts with delivering what a organisation promised when an employee joins and sometimes organisations start on a wrong note with an employee……..
    leading to a dissatisfied and disengaged employee .

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