In this episode, Don Bell reflects on the importance of fun and celebration in the workplace. He reveals how fun can inspire each employee to do their best each day.
Brad: So Don, one of the things I've seen you inspire people with is the concept of celebrating within an organization.
Don: Yes, it’s just as important to have fun and celebrate at work, as with your family. At work, most people's jobs are fairly mundane and often repetitive. In most organizations, employees come to work and do something similar every day. We need to break out from that to give people a chance to really connect with the greater organization.
"It's fun to have fun."
In the businesses I've been involved with, if you're having fun at work you're probably more productive, you're probably more engaged, and the business is probably going to do better as a result of having a better culture.
What I often ask people is, "How do we make sure that we maintain that environment of fun and celebration," and rather than as a leader trying to figure that out on our own, I'd ask the people, "When you put your head on your pillow at night and you say to yourself I had a wonderful day, what made that happen?" Chances are it had something to do with the interaction with other people, or being in some kind of a community where you can celebrate, and that's fun. That is a really fun way to spend your time in your workplace.
Brad: I guess it's a big part of getting that spirit of camaraderie in the organization, that feeling that you're part of one team?
Don: It certainly contributes to that and although that's really important, that wasn't in my mind the end goal. The end goal was more to give people an environment that they knew when they got out of bed in the morning that they were going to be successful at work and probably have fun while doing it.
"It created the environment where people looked forward to going to work."
When you make that self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling, then it self-propagates and becomes a good place to be successful.
Brad: How do you make it self-perpetuating?
Don: Just spin the wheel. Just fuel it. Just make it happen.
Brad: As a leader you mean?
Don: As a leader, yes. Just find reasons to celebrate. Support initiatives that are fun.
Brad: Actually have fun yourself?
Don: And have fun yourself. Don't take your job too seriously.
Postscript: During the proofing cycle of this post, Don shared the following after he participated in a two-day Board session for a rapidly growing, medium sized company:
Don: We had a huge debate on having fun and whether it was a value. Yikes! There was not a lot of support until I pointed out that FUN is being successful, productive, hitting it out off the park in sales, smoking the competition, nailing that project, enjoying trust and camaraderie amongst your co-workers, and celebrating successes. Working in a positive, engaged, entrepreneurial, committed, caring culture is also fun. Fun doesn't have to mean parties and goofing off.
In the next episode of Leadership Conversations we will take a serious look at exactly that – why it is important for leaders to not take themselves too seriously. Subscribe to the Jostle Blog to catch all our Leadership Conversations.
About Leadership Conversations:
Our day job at Jostle is creating a platform that helps leaders engage employees, drive culture and catalyze collaboration. Through this Leadership Conversations series we seek out top people-oriented leaders to explore these topics with us. If you know someone we should include in this series, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don Bell co-founded WestJet Airlines in 1996 and played a key role in quickly growing it to become Canada’s second largest airline. Don’s vision, ideas and leadership were instrumental in creating a powerful company culture based on employee engagement and empowerment. By focusing on its people, Westjet was named Canada’s Most Respected Corporation, won an International Entrepreneurship Award for Outstanding Teamwork in 2001, received the Waterstone Human Capital Award for Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and led the industry in terms of both growth and profitability. Don served many roles in WestJet including Co-Chief Operating Officer, EVP of Customer Service and as a Boeing 737 Captain. Prior to WestJet, Don spent 18 years as President and owner of a Calgary-based company that developed, installed and supported specialized software systems for enterprises. Don is a much sought after speaker on how employee engagement, commitment and teamwork delivers tremendous market advantages and business results. He is also the Chairman of Jostle Corporation.