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Increases in productivity come from having fun!


Fun at work is a serious business issue according to Geo Roberts speaking at HRD 2000 today. He adds “It is not about balloons, party hats and booze-ups, it’s about structuring the way we run things to eliminate de-motivation.”

According to Roberts 52% of the population accept long working hours as the norm, but would like to work less, and 25% of men and women would accept a salary cut if they could spend fewer hours at work. The UK works the longest hours and has the lowest levels of job satisfaction. This undoubtedly has a knock-on effect on productivity.

Roberts identifies the main reasons for this dissatisfaction. He says, “We live in a ‘microwave culture’ we want everything now – reading or time to reflect is a lost art. We have less time for mistakes, we want to get things right first time and are much more critical and ready to knock people down.

“People have less time to spend on close relationships and are increasingly working in isolation. We stare at our PC screens all-day long, preferring to send e-mails rather than communicate face-to-face.”

Roberts identifies three solutions. The most important being to discover the values of your organisation’s people and build these into the organisation’s vision - instead of trying to instil the organisation’s values into individuals. Roberts continues, “We need to find people’s passions, to tap into and wake these sleeping giants. These passions are what will make organisations grow, remain unique and stay one-step ahead of their competitors.”

People also need the freedom to perform within a framework. They need to find their own ways of doing things within set boundaries. Roberts uses an extract from Mozart to show how the composer produced the best of his masterpieces when given deadlines within which to produce them.

Individuals need fulfilment in their work. They need to be challenged and to be able to use creativity as individuals and within teams. Good ideas should be utilised. Positive discontent or a ‘we can do it better’ attitude will help to generate better business. Roberts uses Richard Branson’s David and Goliath mentality as an example: ‘I’m not happy with what my bank has to offer, so I’m going to set up my own - let’s do it ourselves’.

It is also vital for continued success to celebrate achievements. This needs to be planned into our working lives. Richard Branson’s staff appreciation days are given as an example. Staff are invited to his mansion to enjoy a fun-day including balloon rides and refreshments. More novel examples include Ben and Jerry’s mid-winter extravaganza days or Vegas nights as a staff thank-you.

Roberts concludes, “You don’t get successful productive workplaces by being glum. If people express themselves, are given the space to be creative and innovative in their work then work itself and the workplace become fun and productivity will soar.”


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