Fun: The New Work Ethic

“Everything is for my entertainment or my education. If I’m not having fun, I must be learning.” I first heard that when I worked at Disney. Did Walt say that? Not sure. I say you can have fun while learning. And “fun” seems to be my brand. I got an email the other day from a talented, successful business owner who is halfway through my keynoter program. She wrote, “Thank you for helping me to bring out the best in myself so I can inspire others. I am truly grateful… AND I AM HAVING FUN!” (The capital letters are hers). I thought I had read the word “fun” in other fan mail I’ve received, so I looked it up. And there they were – at least 5 other letters telling me I’m fun while being effective.

“And working with you was so much fun!”

“You were so much fun to work with!”

“The process is enlightening on many levels, and it was FUN the whole time!”

“With Mimi’s amazing enthusiasm and humor, it’s such a fun process!”

I’ve always made work fun and I know that’s what people want. When the workplace is fun and cool, the energy is productive. Always the HR person, I love the research that finds a direct link between the extent to which employees have fun and work productively, deliver good customer service, exercise their creativity, and are innovative.

Now more than ever, employees are demanding fun at work. The millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, like workplace fun more than older generations. One survey says 88% of millennials want a fun and social work environment, compared to just 60% of boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). I’m definitely in the 60%! My nephew (age 23) just got a job at a cool tech company in San Francisco. Talk about fun! There’s a lot of available food and ping pong. On their website, the job perks page says, “Fun culture is something we care about deeply.”

We boomers have always known fun is where it’s at. Seems like now, everyone else is catching up. The famous comic Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” I say, you can definitely afford many vacations a day.

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