How do you add fun or humor to the workplace? Well, there is no simple answer and it is certainly takes more than just adding it to your mission statement or job description.
Let me give you four examples of fun and not-so-fun workplace environments in the Las Vegas casino business. I have first-hand, inside experience with each of these major casino properties owned by four different companies. These examples can be applied to work environments outside the hospitality and gaming business.
Property A. I expected to find a fun environment in their workplace. For years I had seen cute, clever, funny advertisements enticing you to come play at their casinos. However I experienced none of that fun and joy in the actual workplace. Obviously, the people in casino marketing and the people in gaming operations were not the same people. To establish a climate of fun it has to be something that happens across the board in your company.
Property B. This was a company that was trying hard to recruit fun, smiling people. They were aggressively on the backs of new people if they were not smiling enough. I was scheduled for an interview with the casino manager and was told by a new employee, “Don't let it bother you that he never smiles. " I sat through the interview and sure enough, he talked about the importance of smiling, but he never cracked a smile himself! I took a friend to the casino floor later that week. His response when seeing the demeanor of the employees, “Geez, where is the funeral!" And he was right, not a smile to be seen. The sad thing was that this was a casino where they wanted to do the right thing. It was a casino where they had one of the best trainers in the business. But you cannot dictate smiles for the employees when the leadership at the top does not walk the talk and where the supervisors are suffering from terminal seriousness.
Property C. On a night shift, two supervisors with personality differences got into a verbal fight. Fight is the right word. It was very loud, rude and nasty. And this was in front of the customers. Although this had happened before, to a milder extent, nothing had been done about it. Hiring the right people is important. Getting rid of the wrong people is probably even more important. Or at least you need to be dealing with the negative behavior and changing it. Along with that is truly promoting people on merit for the right things and not falling into the easy trap of promoting people primarily on seniority. Head-under-the-rug management is never an effective way to create a fun environment. Proactive involvement is critical.
Property D. I found that this was a fun place to work. The employees liked each other. The employees liked the supervisors. The supervisors joked around. The casino manager smiled a lot and appeared to be happy. The focus of training was ensuring that the guests AND the employees enjoyed being in the casino. And it worked. It was part of the mission statement and the philosophy was lived from the top down.
When you are in a fun workplace, you know it. When I lived in California, there were two grocery stores near my home. I always shopped at the one where the employees appeared to love their job. At the other store, they were just going through the motions. Happy employees draw customers like a magnet.
Property E. A casino I walked through last month impressed me. They had an area in the casino, let us say it was called the Party Room, with slot machines and table games. And I clearly noticed how strongly the employees were living the theme. The employees truly seemed to enjoy their work. I was always greeted by eye contact and smiles. I was consistently invited to join a table if I was standing behind it just watching the play. The behavior and quality of the employees was distinctively different from most other casinos. I do not know what their secret was, but suspect they worked hard to hire the right people, put their best people in the Party Room, and ensured that the top management led the way by example. It does not happen by accident. A fun work environment is usually created by design and led from the top down.
Copyright 2005 by John Kinde.
John Kinde is a humor specialist who has been in the training and speaking business for over 30 years specializing in teambuilding, customer service and stress management. Special reports available: Show Me The Funny - Tips for Adding Humor to Your Presentations and When They Don't Laugh - What To Do When the Laughter Doesn’t Come. Humor Power Tips newsletter and articles are available at http://www.HumorPower.com