The often quoted tag line from the founders of the shirt company, Life Is Good, “Love what you do, do what you love”, basically tells us that we should have “fun” in what we do for work. The two Jacob’s brothers for, Life Is Good, have made their tee shirt company the symbol of having fun at work. In fact, the Life is Good Company makes working there fun for everyone. They have invented whole weekends of “fun” where staff can participate in things like hosting the world’s largest pumpkin carving contest and, generate donations for local charities…sounds like an amazingly fun time.
But, outside of setting the world record for pumpkin carving, what type of environment does it take to have fun a work?
First of all, it starts at the top. If the owners and managers do not have a sense of fun, then it can never happen with the rest of the staff. The movie “Office Space” comes to mind when I think of a manager who tries to make people have fun when he, himself, is an unlikeable and incredibly stiff person. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” is another cliché that sums up an environment where the owner and management might try and do fun things but, never pull it off.
At the William C Huff Company, sometimes we might take it to the edge, when it comes to fun. Practical jokes, “Taco Tuesdays”, and “Free Fall Fridays” are barely the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to “fun” at William C Huff. Sure, it probably helps that the owner himself has kind of almost blown up a few things while demonstrating his prowess with pyro-technics but, I am sure this is an isolated incident that has only happened a few dozen times…at mostJ
From a philosophical perspective, one would conclude that, if it is fun to go to work, it does not seem like work and, if you don’t get injured on “Free Fall Friday”…that’s even better. Yes, there have been a few “close calls’ but, ultimately letting everyone know that it is ok to include fun in the workplace is the most likely reason that many of our staff are with us for up to 30 years now.
Traditions, old and new, are part of the sub-culture at William C Huff. The “Hot Monkey” initiation drink is not really meant to permanently harm anyone (I don’t think we have, anyway) it is merely just a way to let a new recruit know that they are being accepted as part of the family. Morning shots of Cuban espresso is one of the more regular, and less dangerous, traditions that create a sense of fun and bonding.
Although pallet jack races and free-falling unwanted furnishings from very high altitudes have never been encouraged by the owner, it seems that upper management apparently have found these activities to be helpful for staff morale. Again, we do want to make it totally clear that no animals have been harmed in any of these activities and that only a few times have we had to get out the first aid kit.
But, on a more serious note, over the years this camaraderie amongst staff members have evolved into doing many, many good things in our community. These days the “fun” from the workplace has spilled over into using the hobbies and interests of staff to do their own “fun”(d)raisers to benefit local charities. One such event, the 7th annual Stoufreth Festival, is a fun filled (yes, bounce houses!!), food and music festival that has generated thousands for local non-profits.
And, when a team member is going through a tough time personally, their team mates are quick to respond with resources and support. One very memorable event involved a pink piano, the forklift, 5 very large old tube TVs and live Fox News coverage. The infamous pink piano drop to “crush cancer” was one of the team’s crowning moments of support, fun and PR for a cause which deeply affects many people and, particularly one of our own family members
The close knit group of “family” at William C Huff are about as diverse as any group that could be put together. The one common thread that binds this group, even stronger than their own personal families (lord knows we all have issues with real blood), is the thread of making life fun, even in the midst of pain and suffering!!