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Nurse managers cultivating a fun culture.

People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.--Dale Carnegie

Nurses who are having fun at work may well be exhibiting the single most important trait of highly effective and successful employees. An increasing body of research demonstrates that when managers lighten up and create a fun workplace, there is a significant increase in the level of employee

trust, creativity and communication--leading to lower turnover, higher morale and a stronger bottom line. Marti MacGibbon who posted an article on the endoscopy nurse website entitled, The Importance of Having Fun at Work says fun is an attitude, a state of being; it is playfulness, enjoyment or amusement. Fun can inspire you, motivate you, and empower you to change your attitude, reactions and perception of yourself. Fun and a sense of humor will propel you toward your goal more quickly and give you inspiration, motivation and a sense of well-being along the way. If you're having fun, you're increasing your levels of "feel good" neurotransmitters in your brain--dopamine, serotonin, etc. When this happens, you empower yourself to feel better in general; you'll find it's much easier to be creative, energetic and empathic when you feel good. (1)

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.--Arnold Toynbee

There are many reasons nurses may not be having fun at work that stem from personal, interpersonal, intrapersonal and organizational influences. For example, they may cling to the belief that the work is very serious and fun has no place in a healing environment. They may think and perceive the people they work with as being overly serious and any attempts at having fun may be misunderstood. There is too much work to do and no time for fun. The healthcare consumer may misinterpret nurses having fun as a lack of caring and a disregard for the gravity of their situation. Fun is frivolous. Work shouldn't be fun. That is why they call it work. One explanation for these beliefs and influences is the emphasis that organizations place on the multiple nursing responsibilities leaving little time to celebrate success regularly whether it be for small or significant accomplishments. A good laugh after a particularly hard day can relieve tensions, make refocusing easier and offer new perspectives.

A fun work environment allows you to express yourself freely in an appropriate way that generates a feeling of comfort and association among fellow employees.--Fabian DeRozario

So how does a nurse manager create a healthy, happy and robust workplace?

As a nurse manager of a team or an organization, you play a big role in establishing the culture. If you are having fun, chances are good that fun at work will become a culture. Fun, laughter, and joy are an important part of creating a healthy workplace. Taking the time to have fun and relax allows ideas to incubate and creativity to flow. (2) Celebrations and activities are a common way for staff to bond outside of their comfortable roles and given duties, but controlling fun from the top down doesn't always work. I am not talking about making work a place to play or having fun for the sake of fun. The idea here is to allow nurses to feel comfortable and to make the workplace more enjoyable. When attempting to create a culture of fun, it is necessary for nurse managers to think out of the box. Once outside the box, all sorts of possible solutions emerge. The following suggestions are for nurse managers who want to recharge the work environment with positive interaction and good humor. They are also for nurse managers who don't know how to go about relaxing and encouraging employees to have fun and enjoy their work:

* Lead by example, show how to have fun and still work hard.

* Follow your intuition and be spontaneous.

* Share good news and funny moments often. (3)

* Find ways to enjoy what you're doing, share the good feelings with your employees and encourage them to share their enjoyment.

* Share your experience of thinking outside the box by setting up creativity sessions to help employees join you in learning how to think outside the box.

* Innovate! It can be fun to find better, less expensive, faster ways to have fun.

* Open staff meetings with questions: "What would make this job a fun environment for you?" "What would you change to make work more fun?"

* Say thank-you often, offer compliments, tell your employees how much you appreciate them.

* Take advantage of every opportunity to have fun.

One of a nurse manager's key roles is to bring out the best in their team. Since attitude is so critical to performance, it is essential for nurse managers to understand what keeps people from choosing and maintaining an attitude that would best serve them and the organization. More and more evidence points to having fun at work as a key factor in this issue. Nurse managers must relearn the value of a smile and a laugh to motivate and inspire their people to find real enjoyment in their work. Creating a fun culture has a number of benefits, including helping a manager present a more-positive image to others, developing and maintaining relationships, reducing stress and actually feeling happier. So why not foster some fun in your work environment to build morale and lift up your team? They will be glad to see you coming.

Encouraging the heart doesn't have to come after you've done everything else a leader does. It's not the end of the process; it's a continuous part of the leadership journey. You can celebrate at anytime, anywhere. So do it! Give courage, spread joy, and care about people, product and process all along the way.--Kouzes & Posner (4)

Six Reasons that fun can improve work quality and mental health:

(1.) Fun breaks up boredom and fatigue

(2.) Fun fulfills human social needs

(3.) Fun increases creativity and willingness to help

(4.) Fun fulfills the need for mastery and control

(5.) Fun improves communication

(6.) Fun breaks up conflict and tension

Priscilla Smith-Trudeau MSM RN BSN CRRN CCM is a healthcare management consultant specializing in workforce development. She can be reached at priscilla.

(1) MacGibbon, M., July, 2012; articles/2012/07/the-importance-of-having-fun-at-work.aspx

(2) Lasley, Martha. (2004), Courageous Visions, Discover Press, Burlington, PA

(3) Bruce, A., Pepitone, J., (1999), Motivating Employees, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY

(4) Kouzes, J., Posner, J., (2002), The Leadership Challenge, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA

Priscilla Smith-Trudeau MSM RN BSN CRRN CCM
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Author:Smith-Trudeau, Priscilla
Publication:Vermont Nurse Connection
Date:Mar 31, 2013
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