Have you ever witnessed the derailing of an attempt to improve morale?
Many years ago, I was working for a particular corporation during a time of deeply sagging employee morale. We’ve all been there. The specifics of why morale was lagging are not really important. Just know that it was pervasive and evident to all levels of the organization.
One Tuesday morning, we came to work to find signs posted throughout the building announcing that there would be a “Hawaiian shirt day” on that Friday for no other reason than to have a moment of fun and lighten the mood. Word spread quickly. Interest was piqued. What was this? A moment of fun? Cool.
It didn’t last long.
Later that same day there was an official email memo from the VP of HR making it clear that this was an unsanctioned event and that we were expected to adhere to the dress code, despite the signs.
Any doubt why there was a lack of enthusiasm in the halls?
I still bristle at the memory of this incident. Here was a grass-roots effort to boost employee morale, and it would cost the company nothing. How much easier it would have been for executive leadership to simply allow this moment of levity to brighten the day. Or, even to take credit for this idea that was clearly needed.
In my family, we have a term for this behavior. We call it being a “fun-suck.” There are three types of people: those who add fun to any situation, those who simply go along for the ride, and those who actively suck the fun out.
Don’t be a fun-suck.