How to Get a Solid Return on Workplace Fun


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It happens in many places and in many ways, but it is a consistent theme for employees at Zappos…they practice random acts of fun and weirdness.

Maybe you were in an airport during the hectic holiday season when seven different flights participated in a Zappos-themed game of Wheel of Fortune…baggage claim style.  If your luggage came down the chute and landed on a prize, the prize was yours.  Apart from the noble desire to surprise and delight their customers, who else benefited from this exercise?  Zappos employees of course!

In my book The Zappos Experience – 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage and Wow I introduce the leadership concept – Play to Win.  Play doesn’t seem like a necessity for grown-ups and in fact may be something that happens “when” everything else is accomplished.  Trouble is, if your business operates like most, you never reach the end of that infinite to-do list.  Alas, the fun never gets had.

But chew on this:

  • Individuals who have fun on the job tend to be more creative and productive.
  • People who are having an enjoyable time on the job tend to have more positive relationships with their peers, make better decisions, are less tardy or absent and use fewer sick days.
  • Innovation emerges from casual contact between diverse work-groups.
  • Brief bursts of workplace fun can be an inexpensive, energizing force that   increases team alignment, solidarity, and productivity.
  • Play and fun can be infused into, and are often most needed for, routine tasks such as evacuation drills.

Zappos has what I refer to as a R.O.F.L. culture.  R.O.F.L., as an Internet acronym, stands for “rolling on the floor laughing.”  But for Zappos I suggest that R.O.F.L.  stands for “Return On Fun Lasts.” Zappos may be the best example of an often under appreciated truth – a small investment in workplace fun will produce tangible and profound benefits for your staff, customers, and your brand’s equity.  What did this airport shtick create? Impassioned employee and customer evangelism.  How FUN must it have been to deliver happiness to unsuspecting people who were probably just trying to endure the day?  And how FUN must it have been to be those people who received something awesome in an unexpected place?

In the spirit of Zappos, how are you facilitating playful fun into your businesses culture?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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