Fun at Work

My husband and I shopped at Trader Joe’s earlier this week.  The place looked to be fully staffed with two people at each cash register.  Staff were chatting with each other and with the customers.  To me, it seemed like they were having fun and there was good camaraderie. 

I have no illusions that working at TJ’s, or any grocery store, is easy peasy, especially in today’s environment.  But it was a sharp contrast to the unhappy employees that work at our local Kroger’s store.  Why did the atmosphere feel so different? I think it might be because the staff at TJ’s are having fun at work, despite the challenging circumstances.

I put a high value on having fun!  And work is no exception. 

One of my first jobs was working at the local pools and as a ‘park lady’ for the Recreation Department in Great Falls. It was the most fun job! The people I worked with were my closest friends throughout high school. That set the stage for all my favorite jobs since. I’ve felt most at home at jobs where I made friends and had a laugh along the way.  

Most jobs are tough much of the time, but having great colleagues and the ability to have fun and laugh (on occasion) make them much more manageable.

Many women I know have friendships that started in the workplace. Many of my long-time friends from work have been in my life since the 90’s. 

My husband also made great friends at his various jobs. We are fortunate to be going to Hawaii in March at the invitation of one of his long-time work friends (from his days at the hospital in Port Angeles in the late 1970’s).

I think much of the fun at work has been lost for people working remotely. I imagine it is pretty hard to find fun and humor on your 8th ZOOM meeting of the day!

Based on some of the leadership articles I have read, it sounds like a workplace where people are having fun is also good for the bottom line. 

Note: I am not a fan of ‘fun at work’ exercises and ice breakers. Organic fun is much preferred over the manufactured kind. For me, fun needs to be spontaneous – connecting with colleagues and finding humor in tough situations.

Creating or maintaining a fun work environment during a pandemic is a heavy lift!  Trader Joes seems to have it figured out; Krogers, not so much!  I know where I prefer to shop these days.

I’m not suggesting that ‘fun’ will solve the myriad of challenges in today’s workplace, but:

If work isn’t fun you’re not playing on the right team.

Frank Sonnenberg, 2001


P.S. Happy birthday, Mom (1910-1994)


2 thoughts on “Fun at Work

  1. beautiful post, Allene. I agree with your assessments. And I am so glad we met at work and have kept up our friendship.


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