I am currently a Principal at Ernst & Young LLP, but I started working as a young teen during my Dad’s secretary’s summer vacations. As I sat for hours in her office chair, observing corporate life and attempting to type long corporate letters (on an actual typewriter!), I quickly came to understand that I was going to have to spend a LOT of time at work for MOST of my life. And that work did not seem nearly as fun as all the other non-work things I enjoyed doing. In fact, it was kind of boring. I decided then and there that when I grew up, I would only do work that was meaningful and fun.
From roller-skating waitressing and selling handmade hats at Grateful Dead concerts (fun), to data entry at a bank (not fun), this conviction eventually — and I mean eventually, just ask Dad — led to my doctoral dissertation entitled, “How to Have Fun at Work.” My hypothesis was that there are fun companies and fun people (like me 😊). However to my surprise, only half of my predictions came true!
While my data strongly showed support for a fun organizational climate, it turns out that being a fun person does not impact a person’s experience of how enjoyable and engaging their work is, nor does it predict positive impacts on organizational performance that a fun climate delivers. In other words, enjoyment at work is not related to someone’s personality or their mood — it’s driven by the design of their organization.
As such, I have spent my career working with organizations to create an environment for people that is meaningful and fun. Over the past 20 years, I have learned through trial and error a proven method to design environments that made work feel more meaningful and fun, and that prompt those that work in the environment to express greater enjoyment and happiness.