Having a little fun sets a pleasant pace

June 1, 1997
By making work enjoyable, you help create the kind of organization to which your employees will want to make a long-term commitment and where turnover and burnout will be minimal. This insight comes from the book, Managing to Have Fun at Work (Simon & Schuster, 1996). Matt Weinstein, the author, also says that the intentional use of fun can have an enormous impact on team-building, stress management, employee morale, and the way patients are treated.

Bob Levoy

By making work enjoyable, you help create the kind of organization to which your employees will want to make a long-term commitment and where turnover and burnout will be minimal. This insight comes from the book, Managing to Have Fun at Work (Simon & Schuster, 1996). Matt Weinstein, the author, also says that the intentional use of fun can have an enormous impact on team-building, stress management, employee morale, and the way patients are treated.

Here are some low-cost, no-cost ideas others have used to lighten the mood at their practices and add a sense of fun:

- Brief, start-of-the-day, "Good News" staff meetings to review the things that went well the previous day; repeat patients` accolades heard about the practice or share a personal anecdote.

- Everyone brings homegrown, homemade, or store-bought food to work on a rotating basis. In many cases, a budget is established for the purpose. Snack food is fun and promotes camaraderie.

- Parties, celebrations, and plenty of public pats on the back for achieving practice goals, employee birthdays, anniversaries, going away or "welcome aboard" occasions.

- A staff lounge where employees can take a break, renew their spirits, have a snack, a group luncheon, or simply let their hair down. Decorate with humorous posters, cartoons, and stress toys.

You don`t have to be elaborate. Fun activities need only provide a change of pace, a way to unwind, if only for a few minutes, a way to celebrate and appreciate each other. The mood of a practice is important. If your practice is an upbeat place to be, your patients will respond better - and you and your staff will be better for it.

To summarize this four-part series: the willingness of employees to accept ownership of their responsibilities and go the extra mile to do whatever it takes, depends, in large part, on how well their job-related needs are met by the work itself. Five such needs were discussed: interesting and challenging work; having a say in matters pertaining to work; autonomy; performance feedback; and a sense of fun. There are numerous others. Identifying and addressing those job-related needs is more than a "nicety" for employees. It is, in fact, a necessity in order to have a productive, high-performance practice.

Bob Levoy is a marketing consultant, seminar speaker and writer based in Roslyn, NY. His new book, "101 Secrets of a High-Performance Dental Practice," is available from PennWell Books. To place an order, call (800) 752-9764.

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