I Love it when People Have Fun

From an employee retention perspective, I love it when I see people in a company having fun because it’s so incredibly rare!  It’s also SO important from an employee retention perspective.  As an employee retention speaker, I get to travel and I particularly like to watch the people at the places I go to such as restaurants, hotels, airlines, gas stations and convenience stores.  I gauge to see if they are having fun.  Most recently in my travels, I was at the TGI Fridays at the Atlanta airport and was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

As I sat down at the bar to get a drink and have some food before catching my plane, I could feel something different about this place. You could just FEEL that this place was something special from a fun perspective.  One of the young women who was tending bar came to me and had a beaming smile on her face.  I was expecting a grimace because the place was packed and the three bartenders they had were going 100 miles per hour just to keep up.   She said “hi,” asked for my order and was promptly back with my drink.  In a minute, she came back to take my order for food.  Then I sat back and just watched.  What I saw made me feel good!

All three bartenders smiled.  Not the fake smile from customer service training but genuine, I am having fun at work smiles.  They joked with customers.  They joked with each other.  The helped each other.  All three of the bartenders were singing along to the songs on the sound system. They were having a blast.  So, you are probably saying, “Jeff, what does this have to do with employee retention?”  My guess is that these people would probably stay working at this TGI Friday’s because they were having fun at work.  Assuming they are making decent money, the chances are that their boss is treating them right and they get along well with their co-workers because they are having fun.

My guess is that the boss other promotes this atmosphere or, at the very least relizes that if his people are having fun they are going to stay at TGI Friday’s because they know that there are not a lot of places where people have fun.  That really sets them apart so that the grass does not look greener elsewhere.  They would think twice about leaving for fear that they might go to a place that isn’t much fun.

All too often, we confuse having fun with not doing your job. Based on what I saw at this TGI Fridays, the people were probably doing a BETTER job because they were having fun.  And, chances are they are not going to be looking for another job.  It’s time we stop confusing having fun with doing a lousy job.  It fact, from an employee retention trainer’s point of view, let’s start promoting having fun at work.

Jeff Kortes


Jeff speaks and conducts workshops regularly in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana. He draws on his experiences as a human resources professional, father, coach, martial artist and U.S. Army veteran to provide thought-provoking programs that yield results.