Marie-Hélène Budworth

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, specializing in learning, development & motivation.

Marie-Hélène Budworth

Fun at work?

February 13th, 2019 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I read an interesting article recently about fun and learning.  It was written by Tews, Michel, and Noe and published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.  The general finding was that fun activities at work promote learning from one another in informal ways, while having a manager who promotes fun encourages learning from oneself.  In essense, there appears to be an opportunity to encourage informal learning processes by injecting fun into work settings through various structures.

While I find the ‘fun’ angle interesting, I am particularly interested in mechanisms that can support information learning.  At risk of revealing a pretty huge bias, I view learning as core to success for both the individual and the organization.  Building organizational cultures that value learning and local climates that support learning is a way through the challenges that come with the breakneck pace of change and progress.  With that in mind,  another message from this article is that we should be hiring and promoting managers who are able to support and encourage informal learning processes, and that might just be by identifying people who are able to encourage a little bit of playfulness – both by supporting ‘fun’ and creating opportunities for ‘fun.’  Of course, this would not be without other important managerial skills, but it is something to think about.

It is interesting that fun is part of the curriculum in junior and secondary education.  It is quickly dropped from our academic experience once we hit ‘serious’ study.  The closer we get to being career ready, the greater the disconnect between fun and learning.  While I am naturally inclined to inject a little humour where I can in class, I avoid the ‘silliness’ that accompanies truly ‘fun’ activities.  Perhaps I also need to reconsider this practice as I continue to develop my teaching skills.


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