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Are we having fun yet?: a consideration of workplace fun and engagement

Bolton, S.C. and Houlihan, M. (2009) Are we having fun yet?: a consideration of workplace fun and engagement. Employee Relations, 31 (6). pp. 556-568. ISSN 0142-5455

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Abstract

This extended editorial to the special issue 'Are We Having Fun Yet?' reviews the current debates on organised 'fun at work' and suggests a framework for understanding workplace fun and employee engagement. The papers to be included in the special issue are also 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. The suggested framework for understanding workplace fun and employee engagement offer opportunities for empirical testing. 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.