You can’t say the F-word at work. That’s right . . . fun. Psychologists say fun is a basic psychological need, as important as being loved. But many people believe fun and work don’t mix. Even at ChartHouse Learning, home of The FISH! Philosophy, we go to great lengths to emphasize Play is more than fun. We substitute words such as enjoyment, lightheartedness and positivity. We explain that Play is a mindset that stimulates fresh thinking and creativity. But wherever Play is happening, fun will show up too. Rather than avoid any mention of fun, why not try to understand what it actually looks like? A survey of 2,000-plus employees by Bright HR, a UK company, reveals how people see fun at work. The study also reinforces how The FISH! Philosophy builds a foundation for fun.
Listening makes real communication possible. In a workplace that values listening, people feel safer to suggest creative ideas and bring up problems that need to be addressed. Information is less likely to be distorted as it travels through the organization. People are more likely to feel supported and respected, improving teamwork and morale.
One of the biggest business buzzwords today is “authenticity.” After centuries of simply hiring people to complete tasks, organizations are inviting them to bring more of themselves—their personalities, emotions, humor, style—to work. What’s driving this trend? Studies say the more you can be yourself at work, the higher your job satisfaction, level of engagement and performance. Customers like being served by people who are genuine and relaxed, not scripted. Millennials, especially, want authentic workplaces and leaders. Used to sharing their feelings on social media without fear of judgment, they are less interested than previous generations in conforming for it’s own sake and hiding their individuality.
Accomplished. Entitled. Ambitious. Impatient. Compassionate. Self-centered. Team-oriented. Job jumpers. These are some of the wide range of terms used to describe Millennials. Born between 1982 and 2004, Millennials will soon be the largest generational group in the U.S. workforce. Millennials have their own generational distinctions, but they also share several important values with the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who preceded them. A report from IBM’s Institute for Business Value showed similar percentages of all three generations want to make a positive impact at work, help solve social challenges, work with a diverse group of people, be part of a successful organization, do work they care about and find work-life balance.
According to surveys of companies around the world, emotional intelligence is one of the most critical job skills of the future. Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ (for emotional quotient), is the ability to: 1) recognize your own emotions and manage them without letting them control you; and 2) understand what others are feeling and use that knowledge to work with them productively.
High-performing organizations invite people to bring their “whole selves” to work. That means all their passion, personality, joy, excitement and creativity. It also means their grief and fears. These “dark” emotions are as much a part of life as happiness is. We all lose loved ones. Marriages end. We battle serious illnesses. We worry about our children and our ability to support them. Sometimes we lose hope that things will get better. Some people respond by bottling and burying their sadness and fear, especially at work. That’s what John Wayne would do, right? It feels productive, but over time these trapped feelings can lead to anxiety, depression and disease.
Of the four FISH! Philosophy practices, people tell us Play is the most difficult to understand. To help, we decided to go to the experts: Kids. Play is essential for child development. Through play, children take charge of their lives. They create rules. They test new ideas. They work together. Because their playmates can quit the game at any time, children learn to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.
Mindfulness has been getting a lot of people’s attention lately. That’s good, because mindfulness is about paying attention. It’s the intentional practice of living in the present, aware of what is happening around you and inside you. Focusing on being alert sounds easy—like drinking a cup of coffee—but it’s not. Studies show people spend almost half their time doing one thing while thinking about something else. Typically we obsess about events long past or problems that have not happened yet.
Your brain loves to make life easy. So it hard-wires your frequent actions and thoughts into habits. That saves you time when performing everyday routines. But it makes it difficult to replace habits you know aren’t helpful, like overreacting in certain situations or fighting every change.
Your organization’s most important source of energy doesn’t come from the local power company. It comes from your relationships. The dictionary defines energy as “the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.” Its synonyms include enthusiasm, spirit, passion, drive, vigor and get-up-and-go. It’s the effort you want to give vs. being forced to give.