Want a Better Workplace? Add Some FUN!

By Jerilyn Pope, LPC, RCC Senior Organizational Effectiveness Strategist
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

I think Dr. Patch Adams was onto something. In the 1998 film by the same name, Robin Williams portrayed the real-life physician who understood the healing power of laughter, joy, and creativity, and how it can impact what is typically a stress-filled environment. At Methodist Health System, fun is second nature — it’s built into our culture and it shapes the way we care for our patients and their families, as well as the way we care for each other.

In my role as senior OE strategist, I work closely with the others on the OE team to focus on leadership development, change management, leadership coaching, and continuous improvement. In addition, as a licensed professional counselor, I facilitate team-building that includes personality assessments and activities that promote self-awareness. We focus on seeing things in a positive way that sets the foundation to use humor to create a fun work environment. We know that health care is especially challenging now because of all of the changes taking place. We strive to turn those challenges into positives, and find the fun and humor in stress-inducing moments.

There’s lots of research that shows humor and fun positively impact the workplace. The Great Places to Work Institute found that in Fortune’s Top 100 organizations, 80 percent of the employees said they have fun at work. When I say that fun is woven into our culture, I can cite several examples:

  • Picnics at all Methodist campuses where our employees celebrate with food, games, prizes, and other activities. The picnics are held on a workday at each Methodist hospital.
  • Friendly, fun competition between departments and campuses, such as dress your manager up in costume for Halloween, and other fun activities that support local charitable organizations.
  • Campus teams that participate in our Methodist softball league.
  • One-year anniversary celebrations for all employees, honoring their service to Methodist.
  • Annual service award banquets with videos to publicly honor and thank our dedicated, long-term employees.
  • Fun, themed recognition programs like “You Rock” and the GREAT awards.

I’ve found that there’s an art to infusing fun into the workplace. Following some simple rules about fun can assure the success of a humor-oriented environment.

  • Fun tactics should never negatively affect patient care or productivity.
  • In planning and implementing fun activities, the organization should always be aware of patients’ perceptions. Individuals who are ill and perhaps facing personal crisis may not interpret a fun activity in the same way the organization does.
  • The organizational culture needs to be built on employees respecting and valuing each other, including appreciating and celebrating diversity.
  • Leadership must set appropriate boundaries that model the desired behavior that is never at the expense of others. Employees’ self-esteem must always be maintained.
  • Employees need to feel that they have “permission” to have fun.

I’m proud to say that at Methodist we truly walk the talk when it comes to integrating fun into our everyday work lives. It provides multiple benefits to the organization and the many key stakeholder groups we serve.

  • Fun builds trusting relationships by establishing comfort levels that encourage people to be more open and honest with each other which leads to more effective communication.
  • Fun enhances the positive perspective. When you’re having fun, you see things in a different way, one that provides balance to the ever-present stress.
  • Fun promotes an energized work environment that creates and supports engaged, positive employees.

Every week I lead new employee orientation and I am asked the same question, “Why do you work at Methodist?” My answer is always the same — the people. I’m not talking about just one or two individuals. I’m talking about the entire organization. In today’s business world, that’s hard to find. I think, in large part, it’s because we recruit and hire based on our organization’s values. Our formula for employee success is simple — we recruit the best, hire the best, and celebrate the best people.

If you’re ready to have a little fun in your career, then it’s time to choose Methodist. Learn more by visiting Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.

© Methodist Health System