Build a Fun Office Environment with the FISH! Philosophy

Published On: April 19, 2023Categories: Blog

It may not always feel like it when we get bogged down in stress and responsibilities, but having fun is as important a part of our well-being as anything else. Fun isn’t just something that you do to fill free time; some psychologists even go so far as to say that having fun is as important to our emotional well-being as feeling loved.

And for a lot of us, “work” and “fun” are considered antonyms; polar opposites even! If this is you, don’t feel too bad–even we at FISH! are guilty of falling into this habit. After all, we make it a point to emphasize that the core pillar of Play is a way of thinking, and try to get people to understand it beyond just as a synonym for “fun.”

But with fun being such a core human need, we’d all do better to examine it more closely and see how we can work it into our workplaces, rather than try to ignore it or set it aside completely. The FISH! Philosophy is all about thinking holistically and bringing our whole selves to work with us, so why can’t we use the 4 core pillars of FISH! to bring a little fun into the office in a way that’s not only satisfying, but productive and helpful for the organization in the long term?

Focus on fostering friendships 

When you really think about it, “fun” is a kind of hard word to define, isn’t it? It’s a bit nebulous, but when you start to dig in, there are a few key traits to defining fun, and one of the biggest is that you’re doing things you enjoy with people you enjoy spending time with. While we’ve all got stories of random fun moments with strangers, fun is a lot easier to come by when you like the people you’re around, and this is especially true in the workplace.

So that means that if you want to foster a fun work environment, you need to foster friendships amongst your team. Not everybody needs to be besties, but the more people can Be There for each other and feel comfortable offering random actions, affirmations, and gestures that Make Their Day, the more likely they’ll be to think of their job as a place where fun naturally occurs.

Promote authenticity in thoughts, words, and actions 

Fun can’t be forced. Take that in for a second, and reflect on it: you’ve almost certainly been a part of a “fun” workplace activity that just felt… off, right? A poorly timed pizza party, a dirge-like birthday song, an “optional” company picnic that was anything but optional–the list can go on and on of office endeavors that try to be fun but end up feeling like a chore at best.

That’s why when you’re trying to build a fun workplace, you can’t just start from the top-down with goofs and playtime; you have to really build from the ground up by encouraging people to practice authenticity in everything they do. When people feel comfortable showing their true selves in their thoughts, words, and actions, those feelings spread and bubble upward, so that when you do plan that office picnic, everyone is sincerely enjoying themselves, rather than just showing up because they think they’ll look bad if they don’t. 

Build trust up and down the org chart 

Just like you want to build sincerity and authenticity throughout your ranks, you need to foster a sense of trust at every level of your organization, from CEO/Director down to the mailroom and custodial staff. When people trust those around (and above) them to be doing their best work, respecting their true selves, and working for the greater good, they feel more relaxed, at-ease, and capable of putting their best foot forward.

However, this trust has to flow both ways–in order for your employees to trust you as a leader, you need to show them that you trust them and their judgment. If an employee feels like their intelligence is trusted and respected, they’ll be more likely to Play with new ideas and create something that leads to greater success. If an employee feels like they can have fun without being constantly watched or judged, they’ll be more likely to build fun consistently and responsibly into their work days. 

Help employees build fun into their job 

Going back to the top of this article, let’s keep deconstructing the wall between “fun” and “work.” Not only is fun not just something that happens outside the workplace, but within the workplace, fun is more than just what you do between tasks. Sure, ping pong tables and office pets are fun, but having work-related tasks that are interesting and fulfilling means that work itself can be fun.

This isn’t always the easiest idea to integrate though, especially when you get out of the higher-level executive positions. Sure, it’s easy for a c-suite exec to have fun with their work when they’re constantly being challenged to brainstorm new and innovative ideas, but how do you translate that sense of fun down the chain to the more repetitive roles of your factory worker, your custodian, or your administrative assistant?

Well, it goes back to trust and control: Ask them what could make their jobs more enjoyable, and when they answer, really listen and really trust the information they’re giving you. By choosing an attitude of trust and giving employees some sense of agency and authorship over what makes the role enjoyable, it’s more likely to actually come to fruition. 

Make fun a goal for the future 

More than ever before, new generations of workers prioritize the importance of having fun in their jobs. Work-life balance isn’t just “working for the weekend” where you exchange 40 hours’ of office drudgering for your favorite Saturday hobbies; it means ensuring that your work offers something enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.

So the more you can build a workplace that naturally fosters a sense of fun, a sense of Play, and authentic expression, the better positioned you’ll be to attract the best upcoming talent in the future.

Ideas to Reflect On:

  • Think back on times your workplace tried to do something fun. What was one work-related activity that was genuinely fun, and what made it different from those that weren’t?
  • Do your employees feel comfortable expressing themselves and their ideas in the workplace? If not, what can you do to show them that you trust their thoughts and opinions?
  • What do you do to make your workplace fun for not just high-level staff, but for the roles that are more repetitive or less intellectually stimulating?

Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and avoid the symptoms of impending burnout. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

Want to Implement FISH! in your organization?

Are you a leader?  Do you train others?  Do you want others to be leaders?

Charthouse Learning, the creator of the world-famous, award-winning, FISH! film is offering an in-person, 2-day workshop, interactive Train-the-Trainer lead by our Senior Trainer.

During our time together you’ll learn how to:

  • Share the motivation and foundation of FISH!
  • Introduce the FISH! film with the four practices.
  • Present the invitation to apply the practices in everyday interaction with others.
  • Build a sustainability and reinforcement program to transform the culture.
  • Pick up tips from other FISH! Philosophers and develop a strategy to embed the practices into the DNA of your culture.
  • Create an energized organization that is the “first choice” for employees, faculty, staff, leaders, and customers.

Plus, you will learn how to create a workplace where people choose to “be and bring” their best self everywhere, every day.

At the FISH! Train the Trainer you will:

  • Dive Deep: Discover The FISH! Philosophy – full of “A-ha!” takeaways and perspective-shifting realizations.
  • Transform: Make the four FISH! practices – Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – an essential part of your professional and personal skill set.
  • Discover: Learn practical ways to apply the FISH! practices to improve teamwork, service, leadership, retention and performance.
  • Develop: Brainstorm strategies to embed The FISH! Philosophy into the DNA of your culture, strengthening your mission, vision and values.
  • Collaborate: Learn and laugh with like-minded folks from across the globe.

Click Here for More FISH! Train the Trainer Information

FISH! Executive Briefing

You have probably heard about the Culture Shift in the news. Organizations are struggling to find talent, employee morale is low, retention is a common goal and customers are dissatisfied with buying experiences.

These are all symptoms of an underlying challenge leadership is faced with every day, regardless of the industry. You can look for temporary relief or an overall, long-term cure.

Join us for a 60-minute webinar on the world-famous, award-winning FISH! practices.

Click Here for More FISH! Executive Briefing Information


Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

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