By: Debra Wallace
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/24/23 — Fun at Work? Really? Isn’t work supposed to be serious?
Through team building, specialized workshops, consulting, and more, business leaders Nick Gianoulis and Christopher Bruce have built a stellar reputation for providing small and large companies with unique team-building programs and fun-filled solutions that are changing the definition of employee engagement.
They want everyone who is eager to increase productivity and have a great time at work to jump on board and see the difference it makes.
This is the business philosophy promoted by Gianoulis – nicknamed the Godfather of Fun – who is the founder of the Wilmington, Delaware-based company known as the fun dept.
How do you make fun happen at work?
“It’s not that complicated. Arrange for fun things that people can do together,” Gianoulis said. “Take some action, do something fun at work. Put a new spin on an old game and make it simple, easy, and fun.”
The goal for Fun at Work Day on January 27 is to be recognized and for companies, managers, and employees to celebrate it and understand its value. The concept of “fun at work” should be an ongoing commitment.
Gianoulis and Bruce want the business community to understand that this Fun at Work Day event and subsequent programs “do not have to be big or elaborate. Our model supports 5-30 minutes of hosting simple games,” Gianoulis said.
Their Connect 4Q activity is a highly-produced quarterly interactive subscription show designed to connect and engage your people (no matter where they are). The fun crew thinks of it as a hybrid of late-night TV and game shows. Visually produced through Bruce’s King Creative, the fun dept’s signature segments are also featured within each 25-30-minute show to highlight a unique theme.
Special guests/celebrity cameos also add to the show’s uniqueness and build anticipation for the next show. Expert live facilitation and transitions between show segments, contests, and challenges will keep the momentum and continuity between shows.
Gianoulis strongly believes in leading companies to understand the importance of providing fun in the workplace with a purpose. He wants the wide business community to understand that 81 percent of employees in Fortune’s Best 100 Companies to Work for reported having a fun workplace environment.
Does Fun at Work Day work with Hybrid and Remote office models?
The short answer is yes. The programs are designed to connect workers who are in the office, hybrid, or completely remote.
A key to all of this is “Consistency. Instead of a one-time event like an annual holiday party, that is short-lived and expensive, we recommend that companies do something on a consistent basis, such as a quarterly event that keeps people connected,” explained Gianoulis. “This allows community service or other initiatives that companies have. Our Connect 4Q programs are designed for the new hybrid work world.”
Through Connect 4Q, fun dept. will show an increase in engagement scores in its client’s workforce. This is primarily possible due to its robust team of like-minded professionals, who formulate the perfect program based on client goals. Gianoulis’s 20 years of experience in the industry before founding the company is instrumental in shaping these programs.
“Fun has a positive Return On Investment (ROI) and a mental health component,” he continued. “A lot of our company strategy, and what sets us apart from others in this space, is that we wrap ourselves up in the endgame of their goals and design specific programming that fits with these goals.”
“A lot of people think that this is about doing work; but instead, it is about the need for incorporating fun into the workplace so that everything is supported positively,” says Gianoulis. “We want everyone to enjoy working with one another so they are more productive. By incorporating fun in a meaningful way, we see huge shifts in business culture that leads to increased productivity.”
“We are completely ingrained with clients to help them become top-class firms with driven employees, and many who are successful attribute it to fun dept.,” he added.
The key to this is to “root this in the company’s core values so that this becomes part of the work culture,” Bruce said.
Gianoulis wants business leaders and their employees to understand that “The highest performing companies have a culture of fun and endorse fun in the workplace. As human beings, we need restorative breaks because working hours and hours at a time are unsustainable. We are not built that way.”
Another major aspect, Bruce explains, “is allowing the fun to be accessible no matter where you are in the office or at home; everyone can tune in and fully participate in this. The hybrid model is here to stay and gives people flexibility. We connect people in a meaningful way through technology instead of teams that never see one another.”
What these two business leaders want the business community to understand is that this Fun at Work Day event or subsequent program “does not have to be a big or elaborate event. Our model supports 5-30 minutes; of hosting simple games,” Gianoulis said.
The following is a Q and A from fun dept. founder Nick Gianoulis and his CONNECT 4Q colleague Christopher Bruce:
Have you worked with any celebrity clients and can you tell me what it was like?
Nick Gianoulis: Anthony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, was one of my inspirations for the fun dept. While I only met him briefly a few times, fun dept. partnered with Delivering Happiness, the consulting company born out of the Zappos book, Delivering Happiness, and experience. Tony was a genius and a very humble man.
Christopher Bruce: I have had the pleasure/fortune to work with a number of celebrities throughout my career in production and entertainment. The thing that has always stood out to me is that no matter how famous a person is, they are just human and crave that same genuine connection. They’ve worked hard, caught a few breaks, and made great names for themselves but, in the end, are not that different from anyone else. It is all about the shared experience!
After a fun activity in the workplace, how do you see the change in the attitude of the employers and managers?
Nick Gianoulis: Fun breaks down the hierarchical barriers that exist in the workplace. Fun humanizes managers/bosses when they endorse and participate in the activities. Is the energy difference in the room? While the energy escalates, people are always more relaxed and open with each other.
Christopher Bruce: People tend to be more relaxed and comfortable with each other bringing the groups closer and more connected.
Can you please give me an example of a recent Fun Day activity in which you saw great impact?
Nick Gianoulis: Hands Up Hands Down is an activity whereby leaders provide answers in advance of “10 fun things someone may not know about me.” The associates/employees then guess who that fun fact belongs to by raising their hands up or down. People who have worked together for decades often learn some new interesting, fun facts. In addition to being a fun activity, it builds trust, respect, and strong connections.
Christopher Bruce: We recently facilitated a Virtual Year end event where a company participated in a variety of interactive competitions, shared personal stories (Even some secret family recipes), and celebrated a successful year. Everyone was engaged, the leadership was able to deliver key messaging to the team and it left people wanting to have more fun in the future.
What are you most proud of when it comes to the work you are pursuing?
Nick Gianoulis: Making people smile and laugh! Hearing the statement, “this is the most fun I have had in years,” always warms my heart. I also take pride in creating new solutions. The process of concept to fruition is very satisfying. CONNECT 4Q has been a two-year journey.
Christopher Bruce: Making genuine connections while moving the needle forward for individuals and companies. Knowing our creative and original solutions really make a difference in the lives that we touch keeps us going!
What do you love about pursuing this work every day?
Nick Gianoulis: Bringing more joy and happiness to the world.
Christopher Bruce: I love connecting with people, helping them escape from the grind, reenergize and find joy at work that positively impacts their lives outside. I truly enjoy getting lost in people’s worlds helping them better connect and engage with the world around them. Perspective is a beautiful thing. I hope that through my work, I can guide others to gain allowing them to get the most out of life.
What are one or two messages about Fun Day at Work and fun dept. that you want to share far and wide?
Nick Gianoulis: Challenge a small group of co-workers to create a brief game (under 10 min), all-inclusive (everyone can play) with items/props in your office or home. Example: Pocket Scavenger Hunt. If you need help, call the fun dept! (302) 463-3819.
Christopher Bruce: I would simply urge people to take a moment to step back from their desks, their tasks, and the stress of getting the job done for a few minutes and enjoy some fun. The energy they will gain from taking just a few minutes away will help fuel them further forward and carry through. Is it time for that Thumb Wrestling Tournament you always wanted to have? Might want to start stretching!
What is the difference between family fun, workday fun, and other fun?
Nick Gianoulis: Workday fun has to be compliant with workplace HR rules and culture. We are often hired for that reason. It takes the burden off the company. My personal and professional life are very much the same when it comes to having fun.
Christopher Bruce: Well, other than the location, they don’t have to be that different. Fun brings us together and bonds us through the shared experience it provides. Life is better when you enjoy the company of those around you. Life is short…so go and Have More Fun Together Already!