I like to have a good time at work! Everyone does. Wouldn’t it be great if we looked forward to coming to work each day? Doesn’t it make sense that if we enjoy our work we’d do better at it? If our employees had a good time at work, it stands to reason that our customers would also have a good time. And when they have fun, they return to have more fun, and often tell others about it too. It makes sense to me, and possibly just might make good business sense as well.

And yet, as managers and supervisors, we work diligently to keep fun out of the workplace. We place too many roadblocks in the way of an enjoyable time for everyone. Can’t we see that it is our resistance to change that has drained all of the life out of our people? We preach incessantly to our staff to “be friendly” and “smile” and out of the other side of our mouths come criticisms and scolding for every little thing, reprimanding repeatedly for the same offense, and never trusting that our employee got it the first time. We frown and grouch at them when we are having a bad day instead of recognizing that this negativity sucks all the life and fun out of everyone.

So, what do I mean by “having fun at work?” I am not talking about behaving in a distracted and dysfunctional manner characterized by unproductive behaviors. And I don’t mean unsafe or careless practices either. Fun at work means “enjoying what you do, and showing it!” One guy that you’ve heard about that truly understood the importance of fun at work is Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines. “Celebrations are to be part of a typical day at work,” says Kelleher, “I want flying to be a helluva lot of fun!” In an excerpt from their book The Art of Business: In the Footsteps of Giants by Raymond T. Yeh with Stephanie H. Yeh, comes the following quotation… “My first interview with Herb Kelleher actually lasted three and a half hours. During that time, Kelleher laughed, sometimes loudly. The most amazing thing to me was that he was totally focused on me during the whole time. When it was time for me to catch my flight back to Austin, he took me to the airport personally. On our way out, he waved to every person, calling them by first name and hugging many along the way. Then, at the main entrance of the Love Field Airport, we sat in the car for a few more minutes while Herb talked about his hobby in astrophysics. As I got to know him, I became mesmerized by his dynamic personality, exceptional intelligence, integrity, and compassion.”

Well, if you haven’t experienced a Southwest flight where the attendants sing over the intercom or play a quick game of chance with the passengers heading to Las Vegas, then you are missing the essence of fun at Southwest Airlines. It seems clear to me that they have truly embraced the spirit of fun because they have a sharp and clearly compassionate l