This paper aims to critically examine the dynamics of fun and well‐being at work, as experienced and perceived by senior managers in a public sector context.
This paper is based on research into well‐being with a British Local Authority, focusing on 12 senior managers through verbal accounts of their own experiences and perceptions of fun initiatives.
The data reveal that managers were not having “fun”. However, well‐being at work emerged as central to influencing and enabling “fun at work” and was strongly linked to eight organisational factors (Working Time Arrangements; Stress Management; Communication Strategies; Reward Strategies; Management Development; Team Working; Relationships with Stakeholders; Clarification and Reduction in Change Initiatives). Thus whilst “Fun at work” prescriptions are common in the literature, findings from these accounts indicate people might be happier to experience better well‐being at work.
Senior managers’ accounts of well‐being identified salient issues, thus providing a basis for broader research in this area.
Attention to the material aspects of employment relations is recommended over ‘silly hat day’ prescriptions. Organisations wishing to enhance fun at work could focus efforts on creating organisational conditions that encourage well‐being through the eight identified factors. This has relevance for the employment relationship, and for practitioners and academics alike.
This study makes a distinctive contribution to the fun at work literature by providing rich empirical data, and extending the “tenets of fun” to consider an alternative conceptualisation of “well‐being at work” instead of the organised/managed fun activities presently embraced in the literature.
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