Delaware's Fun Department shows that entertainment in the workplace is good for business.
Look out: The Fun Department is coming. Is that a good thing?
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The Fun Department arranges “deliveries,” either shorts (five to 30 minutes), mediums (1.5 hours) or longs (luncheons, parties or all-day picnics). These lighthearted episodes, like the fish tank escapade described earlier, are meant to replace the standard, often excruciating team-building exercises. Fun workers find entertaining ways to engage employees in enjoyable activities. The fact that those little bubbles of joy strengthen teams is the bonus.
So, who’s causing the ruckus? The Fun Department employs six active oddballs, er, partners—with strange titles to match their strange gigs. Nick Gianoulis, the Godfather of Fun, reigns over the group, having honed his skills in sales management and operations. Dave Raymond, the Emperor of Fun and Games, and Mark Doughty, the Lord of the Deal, both worked with the Philadelphia Phillies baseball franchise as Phillie Phanatics. Master of Fun Measley has a theatrical and entertainment background. Amye McDearmon, the First Lady of Fun, survived a career in HR. Adding to the jollification is Ben Leroy, a seasoned musician and pizza entrepreneur who holds the title Good Vibes Coordinator. (We’re not making this up.)
Measley, Gianoulis and Doughty work full time at the Fun Department. “We become part of the client’s corporate culture, and rather than them paying about 1 to 3 percent of a business payroll for off-site training twice a year to keep employees engaged,” he says, “we can make deliveries all year long, with the goal of having fun as fast as possible.”
One of the Fun’s favorite strategies is the Bait and Switch. Employees are called together for what promises to be a boring speaker droning on about a boring topic. Turns out, the undercover funsters were the speakers. Channeling Clark Kent, they tear off their three-piece suits and strip down to their Superman-like T-shirts and jeans.
At a recent ING Direct gig, funsters invited 100 employees to a scavenger hunt. The group was sent out on a six-hour photo search that, reportedly, was “a blast.”
At Dawn Career Institute in Wilmington, the Fun is a regular interruption. Human Resources assistant Katie Burke was forced to recite poetry during one visit. The funsters report that Burke enjoyed her time hanging at the Cart of Fun.
According to Wawa’s public relations executive Colleen Labik, “the Fun Department has helped enhance some of our wellness events with trivia, line dancing, and contests that enable the participation of all attendees and reinforce our wellness message.”
Fun also hosted a Halloween luncheon for employees of Wilmington University. “There’s nothing like seeing your boss dressed as a pumpkin to start the chuckles,” one staffer said.
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