Celbrating Fun At Work

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Saturday April 8, 2000

Thursday June 29, 2000

Saturday September 23, 2000

and Thursday December 14, 2000

During the past decade the idea that humor, fun and play can have positive and powerful impact on an individual's health and a business' productivity has gained widespread acceptance.

And while swim school staff, it can be said, have fun everyday, some documentation and some nationally designated Fun at Work Day Celebrations are in order.

The idea comes from Playfair, an consulting firm, a leader in developing these concepts and introducing them to a national audience.

Not satisfied to limit sharing the importance of fun and play for team building, creativity and productivity to their client audiences alone, in 1996 they created National Fun at Work Day – a joyous and playful, yet absolutely serious, effort to increase awareness of the importance of bringing a playful attitude to work.

Our NSSA’ Fun at Work Celebrations 2000 - one per business quarter - help you over the hump of taking the first step – setting a date!

Playfair reports that the fourth annual International Fun At Work Day, April 1, 1999, was a huge success, with reports of fun celebrations from all around the globe.

NSSA wants to know how you celebrated these days!


Here are a few choice samples reported to Playfair and in the near future we will have aquatic ones to report from all around NSSA:

At Sprint headquarters in Kansas City it was Beach Day, as a parking lot was transformed into a beach, with sand trucked in, live music, and sunglasses and plastic leis for all the "vacationing" employees.

Sandy Condellire reports that "in the Global Service Center (call center) of MasterCard International the employees celebrated the day as "Dress Your Supervisor/Manager Day. Anyone with direct reports was dressed up by their employees. We had a few ground rules; had to be gender specific and no skin!

We had supervisors dressed as nuns, biker chicks, in pajamas, as a policeman, Elvis, a Wiseman, a "used car salesman" and a Joker. We laughed a lot and really had a good time! We still handled calls like we normally would, but enjoyed the day all the more!"

"You can now add Iceland to the "Fun at work" day writes Sigurthor Gunnlaugsson, Marketing Director of the Kringlan Shopping Center. "What I did here in the Kringlan Shopping Center management office was to ask everyone at the office to bring in their favorite hat. Then we asked them to take pictures of themselves with a digital camera. Then we posted all the pictures on the computer and asked the employees to vote on them. During the coffee break in the afternoon I brought in a cake which looked like a cowboy hat with candles on it which formed the shape of "K," the first letter in our company name.

Then we had a little ceremony like at the Oscars and the winner was awarded with a big Easter egg made of chocolate. It was a lot of fun!!!

According to Amanda Uhlmann, Cable & Wireless Optus in Sydney,

Australia, planned to hold a lottery to name floors in their building after staff members, "i.e., The Joni Gathercole Floor. We will put up a plaque near the regular floor directory, with their photo and where they sit, what they do for the company. 'Joni is a 29 year old bookkeeper who sits on the southside, with a lovely view over Sydney Harbour. She has worked for our company for 3 years.

She takes her coffee black, with one sugar and has a tabby cat named Lola. If Joni were CEO for the day she would declare a pink day for breast cancer research and get everyone to come in wearing something pink--- the company would donate $1 for everyone who did.'"

Kathy VonFeldt of Premium Plumbing Co., Inc., in Beaumont, TX. reports that "For funday we planned a pizza and game party for after the work. It was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to reading your new book and getting many more ideas. Kathy adds that "Our company does monthly company wide safety meetings, so for this month's meeting I came dressed as a clown complete with shoes and makeup. (You have to understand most of the people in our company seem to be scared of me because by the time they have to talk to me something is usually wrong.) I ran into the safety meeting as Clumsy Clown complete with hardhat and safety glasses to a room full of 18 men and absolute silence! They stared at me with their mouths open. I thought I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.

They got into it a little bit by the end of the meeting, however. The miracle was that later in the day one of our apprentices that never speaks to me called and sounded really happy to talk to me, calling me Miss Kathy. Later, the guys came in laughing and really looked forward to the next meeting. You really helped make a difference and I just wanted to say thank you."

"Our company will be celebrating 'Fun at Work Day' by going barefoot" writes Jo Schwartz, a partner at the Mutual Aid Association in Buckeye, Kansas. "We plan to have a "photo session" and see who can match up the foot with the owner. There will no doubt be prizes or awards given but as we do our best work on the spur of the moment, further details are not available!"

EDS in Buffalo, New York recognized those leaders who created a fun environment for their employees by giving them the prestigious "Manager of Mirth Award." According to EDS manager Ben Levan, the criteria for the Manager of Mirth Award are:

Creates the Culture - leader appreciates, motivates and inspires their employees.
Knows their people - leader gives creative, timely and appropriate recognition. Work is Fun - Leader finds ways to make serious work - fun!
Together we're better - Leader values and fosters creativity and teamwork.
Sets the example - Leader has a high sense of self-esteem, is able to take themselves lightly, and thereby manages their stress more effectively.

"We had scores of nominations from our employees ." writes Ben, and discovered that, since your visit with us from the previous year, our leaders had really worked hard to create an environment where people wanted to work. Their efforts are summarized in the following poem:

Ladies and Gentlemen of EDS, the time is finally here

To present a most prestigious award so please gather near. I'd like to recognize those leaders who've worked hard to get the job done

And somehow amidst the chaos & confusion have managed to have some fun.

They've thrown birthday bashes, sponsored go-cart crashes and played, "Dodge the Dice"

They've counseled for free, paid for a shopping spree...hey, that's kinda nice.

They've stuffed us with food to alter our mood and then when we got fat.

They ran us in races, painted our faces and had us hit a ball with a bat

They've had us putt in the halls, decorated our walls and then if that weren't enough.

They took us on cruises, with all sorts of boozes and kept us going when waters were rough.

So at this time, and I say it with rhyme to people all over the Earth

Join with me here and give a big cheer to those deemed Manager of Mirth!"

Terri Courter of Business & Industry Institute in Augusta, Kansas reveals that "Our boss developed 12 rhyming clues, broke us into 2 teams, explained the rules, armed us with instamatic cameras and film, and sent us on our way. We had to solve the clue, which led us to 12 particular spots in our community or close surrounding area. Then we had to take a picture that would clearly demonstrate that we'd solved the clue. We even had to find an elected official and get our picture taken with them. We were given points on getting the correct answer, partial points if we had a different answer that we could defend, as well as finishing time. When we returned, our boss had an outdoor cookout complete with all the trimmings waiting for us. It was a wonderful team-building activity. We STILL talk about that day. It will go down in B&I history!!!"

The Eastland Center in Harpers Wood, Michigan held a casual jeans day and a pizza party lunch.

Cova Life Administration Services Company celebrated by having a "hat day, casual day, and food day."

Jane Foreman, Communications Manager for Principal Real Estate Services, LLC, writes that at her company there was:

"A People Scavenger Hunt! We made up a list of "Find Someone Who..." phrases and encouraged our 200 employees to have it completed by the end of the day.

Potluck at Lunch! Many participants brought in dishes for lunch - we'll be sharing them and eating together at noon.

Card in Everyone's Mail Slot! On the card it says: "Today is International Fun at Work Day! Have some fun on us!" Signed by all 6 officers and attached was a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup candy bar. We also used the digital camera to insert a picture of the 6 officers after a recent pie throwing contest, so the phrase "Have some fun on us" fit very well!

Baby Photo Contest! You know how that one works....

And, one gal even brought in little cards that said "It's Have Fun at Work Day! 2nd floor meets the 1st floor You've been given a Peep (those Easter marshmallow things). Please take your Peep to someone you don't know on the first floor, give it to them and introduce yourself. Go ahead, this will be fun! DON'T BE A PARTY PEEPER!" She passed out the card and a Peep to each person on our second floor. What fun!

All of these events have been very effective because we have just recently merged two employee groups (in the past 12 months) and people are having a difficult time getting to know each other. This day forced all of us out of our comfort zone just a little. But most importantly, we've had so much FUN!"

This report from Kathy Schlotzer, Manager of the Monroe County BMT Organization of EDS:

"I have given each employee approximately $2,000.00 in play money and every time one of their co-workers does something "Special" for them they reward them with a gift of play money $5.00 - $10.00 - $20.00 - $100.00 etc. They write on the bill, To.... From.... so we know they have earned this new great wealth.

Examples of ways to earn money:

Receive a Job Well Done note from a customer
Help a co-worker resolve an unusual issue
Cover for a co-worker while they are on vacation
Offer to train a co-worker without being asked etc...

On Aug 26th, the Monroe County BMT will be served lunch, followed by an auction (with a surprise auctioneer) so they can spend all the play money they have accumulated over a 2 month period. I am getting a diverse array of items to bid on, pen and pencil sets, movie tickets, dinner for two, beanie babies etc. Everything will be wrapped so no one knows what they are bidding on.

Besides being a fun activity, I am trying to build a stronger team relationship as well as improve our image to our customers."

The Picture People in San Mateo, California had pizza, ice cream, and we definitely heard them say they (on a wild message they left on the Playfair voicemail) that they had "latte runs" throughout the day.

California Polytechnic Institute held its first April Fun Day ice cream social for all staff. "We provided ice cream and all the toppings for make-your-own ice cream sundaes for our 200 employees," writes Pat Hosegood Martin, Training

Administrator of the Cal Poly Foundation. "Employees thought it was a great treat ... and hoped we would do it again next month (who cares about a year from now!!!). It was lots of fun, and a nice, relaxed way to get together.

Employees are still talking about Ritch Davidson's presentation to us over a year ago, and balloon bouquets, silly pens, and other treats continue to pop up in our various departments."

Not sure what to do? Need help? Here are some other unusual ways to celebrate the day with your co-workers:

Ask all employees to bring in baby photos or pet pictures or High School yearbook photos to post on the bulletin board. Then guess who's who.

The Traveling Bouquet. Bring in a bouquet of flowers and present it to one of your co-workers. Tell him or her, I want you to keep this on your desk for the next half-hour. Then pass it on to someone else and tell them to do the same!

Hold a Company Limo Lottery. Hold a lottery where the winner gets driven to and from work in the company limo. (If you don't have a company limo, rent one for the day!)

Offer your employees some unusual gifts (like free housecleaning certificates) to celebrate the day. Take some Joy Breaks during the day and teach all your employees the art of scarf juggling. . .or play marbles together.

Hire an On-site Masseuse for the day.

Take a group photo portrait of your office mates dressed up for Clash Dressing Day ... or Polka Dots Day ... or Suspender Day ... or Pajama Day ... or Bad Hair Day!

Dog Days of Spring: Let all employees bring their pets to work with them for this fun day celebration!

Bring in some champagne (or sparkling apple juice) and take time to toast each other, your successes and your fabulous failures of the past few weeks.

Hold an all-employee pizza party –with the name of your company spelled out across the top of the pies in mushrooms!

When you decide what you and/or your company will do to celebrate, please let us know – send pictures to please. And by the way - $25 each for the top three Fun at Work Day Celebrations on the April 8th date as reported to NSSA! n

For more help try:

Reading Managing To Have Fun by Matt Weinstein (Playfair’s Founder) Simon & Shuster 1996
Attending NSSA Spring Break 2000’s Team Building Day with your spouse and other key people in your school
Searching the Internet under "Team Building" 34,000+ entries!!!

Food Fight!!!


Why Have Fun?

Can having fun on the job make a difference in the way we do our jobs? Absolutely!

says Dr. David Abramis, at Cal State Long Beach, who has studied fun at work for years.

He's discovered that people who have fun on the job are more creative, more productive, better decision-makers and get along better with co-workers. They also have fewer absentee, late and sick days than people who aren't having fun. A survey by Hodge-Cronin & Associates found that 98% of 737 CEOs preferred job candidates with a sense of humor over those without.

Become committed to supporting humanizing the workplace through the use of fun and play and maintaining a light-hearted attitude towards life. In fact, one of our mottos is: "Take your work seriously, and yourself lightly."

Of course – BE SAFE – you are working around water with children not yet fully skilled in water safety and swim skills. After you set your plan, you must set back, itemize and publicize safety considerations to all staff and management.

Become a proponents of non-toxic humor, i.e. humor that is not sarcasm or put-down, and joke-telling that does not depend upon making any particular group or minority the butt of the joke in order to be "funny." And that includes the kind of practical jokes usually associated with the day – situations where the humor is derived from one person being made a fool of by falling for someone else's set up. Now, there's nothing wrong with being a little foolish sometimes -- as long as we are the ones deciding for ourselves to play the fool, not making someone else volunteer for the part. And, it's also possible to have plenty of fun without being foolish at all. Since having fun at work has still not gained complete acceptance in swim school culture as valued and necessary for a healthier life and healthier business, we are certainly in favor of any national day that spotlights fun in a positive way. n