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bored at the party

Ditch forced fun and create a genuinely happy team


As International Happiness at Work Week draws near, Pink Pig Financials' Cheryl Sharp shares how to do away with forced fun and make a genuinely positive work environment.

18th Sep 2023
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With many of us spending around eight hours a day (if you’re lucky), five days a week with our noses to the grindstone, ensuring you’re still feeling happy once you walk through the office door is pretty important. 

International Happiness at Work Week, which spans the last week of September, looks to celebrate just that, championing genuine efforts from businesses to ensure their team are content in their employment. 

However, businesses still often equate a happy work environment with the much-maligned ‘forced fun’, whether it’s awkward social events, interminable team-building days, or simply creating an atmosphere of ‘toxic positivity’.

Corporate cringe

Turning to the AccountingWEB community, we asked members for their own stories grappling with corporate fun, and they didn’t disappoint. 

Accountant coach and mentor Mark Lee shared his experience of a team-building day led by an ex-army chief in the cold wet countryside, something which didn’t seem to have the outcome they’d hoped for.

“It was fascinating but also scary, cold, damp and did NOTHING for team building,” Lee said.

Accountantccole had a similar story during a clay pigeon shooting event which “completely freaked out one of my South African colleagues who had been in an armed robbery". The ruffled colleague had a panic attack and had to leave the rifle range.

Petestar1969 said insincere tactics like these actually accentuated issues within their team, rather than bringing people together.

“My old boss used to make us go on team-building days to boost morale or some such other nonsense. All it did really was to increase the divide between team members. People who already didn't really like me liked me even less and lazy members of the team were lazy in the exercises too.”

Summing up the discussion, Ireallyshouldknowthisbut concluded: “There is a remarkable number of bosses who think what they think is fun, will be fun for the whole team.”

Flexibility and understanding

Posing the question to Cheryl Sharp of Accounting Excellence award winners Pink Pig Financials, she too cringed when thinking back to her time as an employee at a firm.

“In a previous life and especially working in bigger businesses, it was always forced with half-promised and half-cocked social events and days out with the team. My employer would say ‘yes, we're all gonna take you out to increase morale, but in the small print you have to pay for it’ which I think is pretty rubbish really, isn't it?” Sharp said.

Thinking back to her time in industry, Sharp noted that for all the ill-thought out events and attempts to force office positivity, all of her previous employers missed what she, as well as her colleagues, required to have a more positive work experience.

“The biggest thing that forced me to leave was the flexibility side of it, as I wanted to work around my boys,” Sharp continued.

“What people really want is for their employers to understand them, which is why flexibility was a key thing for me when setting up Pink Pig.”

This focus on truly understanding your team and their needs, rather than simply forcing a one-size-fits-all approach is what Sharp believes has been a key tenet to her team’s happiness, something which she prides herself on.

“Really understand your people and make sure that they fit in the existing culture or the culture you’re trying to build. Spend time learning what motivates your team and what stresses them and what they like to do as people not just as employees, that’s where you’ll notice a difference.”