5 reasons a fun company culture is not fun

Geeks Making Planes!
Creative Commons License photo credit: bre pettis

Your job search has resulted in the exalted face-to-face interview and you’ve done your homework: you figured out what you wanted in the company culture and developed some interview questions to find out about it. You ask one of your corporate culture questions and the hiring manager comes back with this gem:

“What we try and promote is fun in our company. The past few years have been really rough and there is simply too much stress, so we make an extra effort to put some fun into our work.”

All true of course. But if “fun” is the corporate experience you strive for, you won’t get much fun. You’ll end up with a losing firm and one detrimental to your career. Instead, you should be looking for these five culture focuses to help your job security in the long run:

1. Executing against the business plan

Every company has a business plan — and fun isn’t on the list of what needs executing. If a company can successfully implement their plans (this is very hard to do), you will end up working at a company with a delivery mentality. And delivery of products and services is what brings revenue in the door and customer’s happy.

2. The need to make a profit on products

Selling volume without profit is a great way to feel good — and go out of business. Without the profitability that comes from solid product, pricing, and marketing, a company won’t have the resources to continue innovating and creating more customer value. Sure, when there is lots of profits, it can be fun for executives, but without profits, it isn’t much fun for anyone.

3. The company must love their customers

Customers are the source of all good things at a company — and a lot of the headaches as well. While some advocate to fire some of your customers (which I agree with), your customers will provide you feedback on your products, help you add value to the products you have, and make suggestions for new products that will help them. If a company can’t show you how they love their customers, you won’t have any fun on the job trying to figure out what customers want.

4. Companies need to treat employees with respect

There is a whole lot of employee bashing going on. With relentless layoffs, reduced pay, furloughs, missing 401(k) company contributions and few jobs, companies are not doing very well on the respect part of working. Having a “fun” company culture while eliminating the company contribution to the 401(k) or asking employees to either get laid off or take a 20% pay cut while operations are moved doesn’t do much for entertaining employees.

5. Companies need to provide challenging work

If the work you do for a company is all boring, boring, boring, the type of fun you have at work will be flying paper airplanes and not satisfaction from working on something that challenges you and your job skills. People have fun when they are engaged in the work and can see how their work impacts others in a good way. Flying paper airplanes and calling it fun is simply wasting everyone’s time.

Fun comes from the right business culture

When you focus on these five areas of a corporate experience, the fun will come. The job satisfaction will build from the work. Employees will engage in the work because the work has personal impact and significance.

If you are out there searching for a job, you might be relieved in hearing that the company is focusing on a fun culture. But remember that the fun comes from a company performing well and providing great work and respect to their employees. After all, the employees are the ones delivering value to the customer.

4 Responses to 5 reasons a fun company culture is not fun

  1. Pros says:

    Wouldn’t you say that if a company is effectively executing the top five tips then there is budget and time to have the so called fun culture? For example if a Company is doing well and generating profits, then the company throws dinners, entertainment, happy hours, etc etc.. for so called fun!

    When the company is not generating profit, and customer loyalty renewal, then a lot of these fun activities tend to dissapear.

  2. Scot Herrick says:

    Yes, if the company is doing all those things, companies can certainly spend money on dinners, etc. I’d contend, though, that is not the fun aspects of the work I’d want to have. I’d rather have empowerment and engagement in the work — that is the fun part of the job. Not corporate functions (that you feel you must attend to be politically correct…).

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