Weinstein, who has worked with businesses from IBM to Texaco, says rule one for bringing more fun into the workday is "make fun a priority. You cannot say `I'll get to it after the serious work is done.' That will never happen."
Where to start? First, don't just pick a model and copy it. It makes sense for Shillman--a big Three Stooges fan--to use a Stooge salute at Cognex. But if you don't know Curly from Larry, don't even think about it. "Find your own style," says Weinstein. "And start with small steps. You cannot make radical cultural shifts; gradually ease into having more fun. Begin by budgeting about 15 minutes for fun. On Friday afternoon, for instance, bring in a bottle of champagne to toast the week's successes."
Need more examples? Weinstein's book is packed with 52 ways to have fun on the job--one for every week of the year. Consider:
- In times of high tension (waiting to hear the verdict on a big sales pitch, for instance), instead of biting your nails, have everyone play childhood games like marbles. Hold a companywide championship, and don't worry if nobody remembers the rules and everybody fumbles--"that makes it more fun. You don't want games to get too competitive. When they do, they stop being fun," says Weinstein.
- Ask senior managers to bring in their own baby pictures; post them on a bulletin board for employees to giggle and guess at. "This is a powerful way to have fun and build community," says Weinstein. "It says that we may be a vice president today, but we all started out as somebody's baby."
- Another case: "One retail store manager routinely hides state lottery tickets in the store's back room for employees to find," relates Weinstein.
- Shillman at Cognex offers his full-time employees a yearly bonus. This year, about 330 employees got a "night on the town"--a limo for five hours plus dinner for two at a swank restaurant. "I want my employees to feel rich," Shillman explains. "This is a tangible way for them to enjoy the profits of their efforts."