How Fun Changes Cultures

 In Blogs

The other day, I read a piece of research posted by the Wall Street Journal and the iOpener Institute, and it really got me thinking. They shared some hard data.
Happy employees, they said:

  • Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least satisfied colleagues
  • Believe they are achieving their potential twice as much
  • Spend 65% more time feeling energised
  • Are 58% more likely to go out of the way to help their colleagues
  • Identify 98% more strongly with the values of their organisation
  • Are 186% more likely to recommend their organisation to a friend

We all know the research is correct. I bet you’ve seen it in the Supermarkets you shop in and I’ve seen it in so many of the Contact Centres that I have worked in.  Workers who have a negative approach or a bad mood give worse customer service than those who are having a good day. When workers are in a negative frame of mind they want more breaks, make more mistakes and require more attention from their manager, and therefore they will cause a decline in productivity.

How can we catch employee’s energy?

Often, when we work on transformation projects, we need to change the culture. Embedded culture is tricky to change but using fun as a medium makes it easier to change behaviours and mind-sets. People sometimes need an incentive to change but in this case it is not a monetary one – it is about positivity – enjoying the working day. Creating a feeling of light heartedness, laughing, smiling and sharing good humour with your staff really does help to bring an air of optimism to your operation.

I guess we’re just  big believers in having fun at work! After all, many of us spend around 8 hours per day working, so it pays to enjoy work.

A while back, we were asked to transform an operation.  The initial feeling for me was how miserable the atmosphere was when we very first walked through the door.

So, what did we do?  We applied the Fish Philosophy!

Developed by the guys at the Baltimore Fish Market, they were getting up at 4am in the morning and simply not enjoying their jobs. That is, not until they started having fun. These days it’s a successful tourist spot as well as a great business. I’ve added the link to their video at the foot of this page. It’s brilliant!

Fish philosophy normally applies to customer service but we turned it around and used it as a team to improve motivation with our demotivated team. Here’s how!

Be There

The whole management team arranged desks out on the operational floor. We quickly made friends with some of the most talented workers I have ever met. Don’t sit in an office doing emails. Get out there with your people and show you care.


We arranged fun incentives, quizzes, theme days, nights out, ideas sessions – not everyday, but often.

Make their day

The management team made a pledge that we would catch people doing something right and immediately reward them with praise. Catch their energy! Release their potential. We bought a bell and rang it to celebrate even the simplest success. The team began to laugh. Productivity began to rise.

Choose your attitude

Say one of the Top Team was having a bad day – we decided it was not the team members’ fault. We chose our ‘attitude’ when we walked through the office door…….. because attitude is contagious.

Realising the potential of a fun culture

It worked yet again. It wasn’t the only measure we introduced but engaging the team when transforming the business helped us make other changes too.

Labour turnover reduced from 8% for the month of December to 0.8% in May. Service levels settled at a 2-day resolution time and the client was happy with changes the team had made. There was an audible buzz, laughter in the office along with the unusual sound of a bell!

On my very last day a young woman stopped me in the corridor and said, “Thanks for sharing your values with us. I enjoy my job these days.” That reduced me to tears.

Employees who enjoy their work are positive employees. Their upbeat mood is “catching” too and leads to an overall positive atmosphere in your business.  Concentrating your efforts on making employees satisfied is the most direct and powerful way to impact your organisational culture and provide a positive client experience.

Why not try some of these ideas on your team?

The Change Directors help businesses to transform through their people.  Call Ruth on 07976 509 551 for a chat about how you’d like to improve the culture and motivation of your team.

Fish Philosophy Film.

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