Policy or Passion – what rules your organization?

Policy or Passion – what rules your organization?

Wouldn’t it be great working in an organization where people were happy to come to work, got their work done efficiently and had fun doing it? Unfortunately, I’ve seen leaders stifle the passion and fun that can be had at work in the name of policy or tradition or just because they don’t understand the positive effects on business when your workers are happy. Now let me say I do believe ENGAGED employees are more important than HAPPY ones, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Engaged employees say great things about work, strive to do their best at work, and plan to continue working for that organization for the foreseeable future. At the end of the day, I think most engaged employees are genuinely happy, as well.

There is a great deal of research about happiness at work, thanks to people like Shawn Achor. In Achor’s book, the Happiness Advantage, he describes the results of a decade of research that shows the impact happiness has on business results. For example, happiness raises sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%.

When I read this, I have to wonder why we stifle happiness, play, and fun at work. I’ve used the Fish! Philosophy in my culture and training workshops in the past, and have never seen a negative outcome – only employees finding ways to be positive, focus on their customers and “play” at work.

When I came across a Huffington Post article abut a dancing crossing guard in Toronto who has been told to stop dancing, it made me wonder… did anyone take the time to see how her dancing was impacting her “customers”? Did they watch how she could still get her work done effectively? I would have loved a dancing crossing guard when I was growing up – in fact, it may have encouraged me to actually cross at the correct place! Take a look and see what you think – is dancing on the job wrong?


If leaders are able to tap into the passion that brings someone to work every day, rather than to rule by policy, the longterm engagement is so much greater. Rather than stifle creativity and positivity, I agree with Warren Bennis, who said “Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard.”

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