Fun at Work (Really!)

Job funThis Job Should Be FUN!
Basso and Klosek

I love reading books about management and office culture. This book caught my eye because it had a guy with a bunch of balloons on the cover. Nothing says fun like balloons.

As a person who has been a working stiff since the 1970s, I have seen more “new” ideas come and go throughout my work history. Things I have been subjected to:

  • a laugh therapist (I wasn’t quite sure what that was about. I hardly laughed, though.)
  • a talking stick for meetings (hold a stick when it is your turn to talk)
  • team building exercises
  • ice breakers
  • sharing feelings

I am generally very positive about my job and my co-workers and I work very hard at not getting cynical, but every time some new idea shows up to make my life and work better, I just end up annoyed. The reality is that managers and worker bees alike are complex creatures and have complex lives. No one is perfect. Employees need to stop the expectation that a boss will fix your life and career and care about your happiness at work. Managers need to recognize that good morale is not a function of slogans, bonding, sharing feelings, etc.

If you want to improve morale with very little effort, try bringing in cake once in a while. It’s not a perfect solution either, but at least you have cake.


back cover


  1. Vertical balloons? Fun! Horizontal balloons? Dirty grown-up fun! Seriously, page layout people….didn’t any of you stop and think what those page numbers looked an awful lot like?

  2. Cringe! WTF, page 152? Why, oh why, did anyone think referring to managerial flaws as “boo-boo areas” was a good idea?

  3. Workers are neither stupid nor childish. It’s insulting to treat us as if we were. I’ve never been a manager, but I’ve been happiest at jobs that gave me control equivalent to my responsibilities and where management treated me like a person of average intelligence. Specifically, do not try to make me feel one minute as though my work was part of A Grand Scheme of Great Importance To The Entire Human Race and the next minute lay off everyone around me and load me up with their work.

  4. Ugh…fun. I like my job, and one of the reasons I like it is no-one tries to foist “fun” on me.

  5. I always remember enduring one of these worker-satisfaction lectures back in the early 1980s and one woman who was a long-time employee and had seen it all huffing, “Don’t anybody be patting me on my back. You want to pat, pat me on the WALLET.”

  6. With all that, how did anyone have the time for actual work?

    At my former (dysfunctional) employer, one year they did a lot of team-building exercises off-site for the managers. We had to give up a day to go to some conference center and practice falling backwards into our co-workers’ arms, and s**t like that. Then when we got back to the office, the people who you already knew were likely to stab you in the back just went along and did that.

  7. The best team-building exercises I’ve experienced, as a manager or an employee, are well-thought-out “work parties” at which some huge task gets tackled by the group and everyone pitches in.
    The best of those that I ever led was a weeding party!

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