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Are we having fun yet? A consideration of workplace fun and engagement

Sharon C. Bolton (Strathclyde University Business School, Glasgow, UK)
Maeve Houlihan (University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 2 October 2009




This extended editorial to the Special Issue “Are we having fun yet? A consideration of workplace fun and engagement” aims to review the current debates on organised “fun at work” and to suggest a framework for understanding workplace fun and employee engagement. The papers included in the Special Issue are also to be introduced.


The editorial review asks for an approach that offers a critical appraisal and sets the latest move towards fun at work within the context of the material realties of work.


A review of contemporary debates on fun at work reveals a predominantly prescriptive focus on attempts to engage employees through fun activities that oversimplifies the human dynamism involved in the employment relationship. The editorial suggests that we need to consider the motivations, processes and outcomes of managed fun at work initiatives and to consider employees' reactions in terms of “shades of engagement” that detail how people variously engage, enjoy, endure, or escape managed fun.

Research limitations/implications

The suggested framework for understanding workplace fun and employee engagement offers opportunities for empirical testing.

Practical implications

Understanding workplace fun and the work that it does, and does not do, offers opportunities to improve relationships between employees and between employees and the organisation.


The editorial and Special Issue overall offers an important contribution to the ongoing fun at work and employee engagement debate and opens up avenues for further exploration and discussion.



Bolton, S.C. and Houlihan, M. (2009), "Are we having fun yet? A consideration of workplace fun and engagement", Employee Relations, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 556-568.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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