8 Ways to Make Work Fun - Part 2

Aug. 19, 2016
Spontaneous events can some of the most momentous because they are unexpected.

This is the second of two articles that explain why it's important to have fun at work. To read the first one, click here.

5. Create Fun Spontaneous Events

Periodically, especially after a tough or momentous week, someone on the leadership team will call happy hour. These are seldom planned more than a couple of hours in advance, but everyone enjoys them, even the non-drinkers thanks to a few trays of food from a local restaurant.

Spontaneous events can some of the most momentous because they are unexpected. When a group from the company announced they were going to Rooster’s Roadhouse for lunch. Rooster’s is well-known for its Hell-Slider, covered in a ghost pepper sauce. Since the group included Gavin Cleaver a British expatriate, I offered to pay for everyone’s lunch if Gavin would eat a Hell-Slider, which immediately made the episode the stuff of company legend.  Gavin, who moonlighted as a food critic for the Dallas Observer wrote about the experience:

I found myself at something of a dive bar on a Thursday afternoon, on the receiving end of the boss's no doubt hilarious suggestion that, unless I ate one of these burgers, everyone was paying for his own lunch. This must be that Texan hospitality I've heard so much about. Immediately assailed by the longing stares of the other employees, I realized I must do what was right. I must nearly kill myself in a quest to get the boss to pay for our stuff. I was joined in sympathy by two fellow employees, one of whom, in the clearest signal I have ever seen of mental instability, decided to have four of them, to see where his limits were. These things are only slider-sized, but they come slathered in more terror than you can imagine.

Chris Hunter, owner of Hunter’s Heating & Air in Southern Oklahoma is one of the best practitioners of social media and video in the contracting community.  When calls slowed one afternoon, Chris’ team spontaneously created a short rap video with the team doing what could loosely be called dancing, doing head stands, etc. in front of a wrapped truck.  It went viral in their community, making Hunter look like a company with a sense of humor, which it is.  This is not only fun for the team, but it helps in recruiting both customers and employees.

6. Make Individual Recognition Fun

There are times when individuals in the company merit recognition.  These are, of course, opportunities to celebrate. There are three main classes of recognition opportunities. The first are life events, such as a wedding, birthdays, and the birth of a child.  Second our outside achievements, like graduating from college or attaining NATE certification.  Finally, we have internal achievements, like hitting a personal sales goal or milestone, earning a promotion, and an anniversary with the company.

7. Create Fun Events

Calendar events are additional opportunities to have fun.  Angie Snow at Western Heating and Air Conditioning in Utah baked April Fool’s Day treats for her team.  These included pork cinnamon rolls, cupcakes made with meatballs, mashed potatoes and tomatoes, and bacon cupcakes that look like fried eggs.  Angie had fun.  The Western team had fun.  It make for interesting social media posts and it’s something that got talked about.

Events can be completely artificial.  Before the first day of any sports season, you can have employees where a jersey or fan shirt of their favorite team, including the technicians.  It gives them an ice breaker with their customers.

Every year at the Service Roundtable we have a “rib off,” where we buy ribs and sauce from local BBQ restaurants and conduct a blind taste test.  It’s held, more or less, on Bob Viering’s birthday.  When Bob quit the company for a few years, we continued to hold the rib off and he continued to show up.  Finally, we just rehired him.

For the past couple of years, I’ve handed out $20 bills to everyone at the company Christmas party.  This includes team members, their spouses, caterers, and anyone else present.  Accompanying each $20 is a card that states, “Use this money for good.  Good is how you define it.  The money must be used by the end of the year or returned.  When you use it for good, post a picture or paragraph at the company Facebook page.”

8. Start a Fun Challenge

Sometimes you can have fun by challenging people.  Service Roundtable COO, David Heimer routinely challenges people to write down a fitness goal, which gets posted.  Some appreciate it and have fun with it.  Those who do not, simply do not participate.

One year, I offered to buy everyone a Fitbit who would agree to wear it for three months.  Only the programmers and one of the graphic designers declined.  Yet, among those who participated, half lost the device or lost interest before the three months was up.  Not everything works.  Yet, there are a handful of people who continue to wear their Fitbits.

Later, I was invited to enter a team in the Fit Company Challenge.  I thought it would be a great idea and shared it with team by email.  One response read, “I can think of nothing I’d be less interested in doing as a team building event.  And I’m sure the company doesn’t want to pay for the injuries I would likely sustain!”

The next read, “As competitive as you are Matt, I cannot believe you would want to pay for an event you would, with [person’s name] and me on your team.  [another name]?  [another name]?  Don’t want to insult you guys but I think you might be in our group, be destined to LOSE.  And then there’s the potential increase in insurance when both of us sustains injuries and someone has to take us to the ER.”

Not everything works.

Fun as a Corporate Value

Dale Carnegie wrote that, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”  Fun at work is important.  We consider it one of our corporate values.

We have twelve corporate values.  Each month we pass out Value Cards, which are business cards with the value printed on it and we talk as a company about ways we can incorporate the value into how we do business and recognize people who have exhibited the value.  August is, “Fun – We smell the coffee…  And the roses…  and the wine.  We make business enjoyable.  That’s why jerks need not apply.”


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.