8 Ways to Make Work Fun – Part 1

Aug. 5, 2016

The popular culture that pervades our society is anti-work. Whether on television, the movies, music, or bumper stickers, work is usually portrayed as unfulfilling drudgery for cold, callous bosses. It doesn’t have to be. Here’s the first of two articles that will show you eight ways to make work fun.

Why It’s Important to Have Fun at Work

During the week we spend half of our awake hours at work, if not more. That’s too much of life to not be enjoyable. Moreover, having an enjoyable work environment with a happy team is economically smart.

The iOpener Institute studied over 40 thousand people over ten years for their “Science of Happiness at Work™” program. They found that happy workers take 1/10th of the sick leave as unhappy workers, are six times more energized, twice as productive, and stay with their employers twice as long.

The productivity statistic is huge. The employee retention stat might be even more important. Think about some of the costs of losing a technician:

  •  Lost revenue and profit until a replacement is found
  •  Cost of an idle truck
  •  Cost of overtime paid to other technicians to cover the workload
  •  Paperwork and administrative costs associated with the exit
  •  Lost investments in training and certification for the technician
  •  Potential lost customers who follow the technician
  •  Cost to recruit, screen, interview, background check, and drug test a replacement
  •  Lower productivity with the new technician gets up to speed on company processes
  •  Training costs for the new technician
  •  Administrative costs in onboarding the new technician

These costs can equal or exceed the technician’s annual pay. Clearly, it is economically viable to take reasonable actions to insert fun into the workplace.

1. Gamification

As I write this, people around the country are scrambling to catch Pokemons. I do not share in that particular affliction, but I do understand. It’s a game and human beings love playing games. Consider the craze with fitness trackers. They automatically measure, record, and graph activity in a communal format, making pounding out miles on a treadmill more endurable if not always fun because there’s a game aspect to it. There’s also a competitive element.

Can we gamify HVAC? Absolutely. In the Service Roundtable, we have a case study, titled “The Great Steak and Beans Contest” that Service Nation Alliance Vice President of Programs, Bob Viering put together while he was at A-ABC in Dallas. Bob held a draft. Everyone in the company had a role. Dispatchers were scorekeepers, and thus, exempt from the teams. Office personnel were fans and were given petty cash to buy swag for their teams. Various activities were tracked and points were awarded. The winning team got a steak dinner while everyone else ate backed beans. At the end of this column, I’ll share how you can get a free copy.

So what can you gamify? Try the following:

  •  Revenue/Truck
  •  Per Call Average
  •  Service Agreements Sold
  •  Calls Booked
  •  Installation/Remodel Leads
  •  Reviews
  •  Facebook Mentions
  •  Callbacks (Deductions or points for Fewest)

2. Celebrate Milestones

Company milestones can also be celebrated. They are achievements you should feel good about. Here’s some to consider:

  •  Total Sales (e.g., $1 million, $5 million, $10 million)
  •  Service Agreements (e.g., 100, 500, 1000, etc.)
  •  Installations
  •  Anniversary
  •  New Building

3. Have Fun With Ongoing Activities

When I learned that a community garden was expanding near the office, I rented three plots for our team. It wasn’t for everyone, but quite a few team members enjoyed working in the garden over lunch, on breaks, and after work. What can energize your people?

Every so often, I’ll hear then see a mini-drone coming down the hall, usually being flown by one of our young graphic designers. I grab a small crossbow that shoots suction cup quills and go hunting. Sure, it’s a distraction, but it’s also fun and offers relief. Make it okay for occasional play.

At the offices of Google and similar tech companies, you will find pool tables, ping pong, air hockey, and foosball. The tech companies understand the need for people to take breaks and blow off steam. You can do the same with Nintendo or Play Station, if nothing else.

4. Fun For Stress Relief

Every so often, especially when the company’s been under a lot of pressure (e.g., this summer’s heat), it’s good to kick back for a few hours and do something fun for the entire company. For example, at the Service Roundtable, we’ve played whirlyball, gone to Studio Movie Grill, been bowling, and are going to Dave & Buster’s for an afternoon of games. Personally, I struggle with these because of the time required and the length of my task list, but they make enough of an impact on the team that I do them. After the summer, consider taking an afternoon off with your team for one of the following activities.

  •  Arcades
  •  Boating
  •  Bowling
  •  Canoeing
  •  Cooking Lessons
  •  Fishing
  •  Microbrewery Tour
  •  Movies
  •  Paintball
  •  Wine Tasting

Stay tuned to the August 19th Hotmail newsletter for the conclusion of 8 Ways to Make Work Fun!

For a FREE copy of “The Great Steak & Beans Contest,” detailing how Bob Viering incorporated gamification into a service company, call the Service Roundtable Success Team at 877.262.3341 or visit

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.