Quiz – how fun is your workplace?

How fun is your workplace?

I just read a fascinating book, The Levity Effect, by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. It’s about how “levity” can transform the workplace. They make a powerful case for why levity is an extremely effective tool for helping people to work better.

Now, you might be thinking, as I did, “Levity would sure be tough for me, I’m not particularly funny, and I’m not particularly outgoing.”

But what the authors mean by “levity” is really a sense of “lightness.”

Ah, I thought, I’m trying! The Ninth of my Twelve Commandments is “Lighten up” (see left column). When I posted sticky notes with key phrases all around my office and apartment, the one I put in the master bathroom read, “Tender and light-hearted.”

Gostick and Christopher include a quiz about workplace levity. Looking at it, I realized that most of my workplaces included these elements, which I’m sure contributed to the positive experience I had everywhere (except for the summer I worked as a waitress at Dos Hombres Mexican restaurant — zoikes, I did not like that job).

For example, I’d assumed that the atmosphere around the Supreme Court would be serious, thoughtful, and grand. And it was. But in her chambers, Justice O’Connor incorporated certain goofy aspects that made it a lot of fun, too. Each Halloween, she required her clerks to decorate elaborate pumpkins, and birthday celebrations were always a big deal, and she took the clerks on a yearly outing (we went fishing). And that sort of thing really made a difference.

How does your workplace measure up? Take Gostick and Christopher’s quiz:

  • New employees are made to feel welcome
  • Meetings are positive and light
  • We have fun activities at least once a month
  • It’s common to hear people laughing around here
  • I can be myself at work
  • We have a lot of celebrations for special events
  • When brainstorming, we like to have fun
  • My boss is usually optimistic and smiling
  • Customers would call us fun to do business with
  • I have a friend at work who makes me laugh
  • We have a good time together


It occurs to me that this is a good list for home, too; I just need to substitute a few words. I’ve been working hard to be a more light-hearted parent and spouse, and these are helpful points to keep in mind.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Great points…as I look back at my careers, the end of levity usually marked the end of my tenure. When things (and people) are no longer amusing and anecdotal, it’s too dour to endure!

  • Hmm. My workplace is an odd mix. The people are friendly. New folks are made welcome and it’s easy to be myself, which is rare for me. I’m not someone who feels comfortable easily. There’s a lot of laughter and joking. However, there’s a near-constant negative undercurrent that frequently breaks the surface. We tend to laugh when someone says something optimistic, because it /must/ be a joke. Meetings are never what most people would consider fun — arguments can and do errupt. Schedule and budget problems and personality conflicts cause a lot of stress. We’re kept mostly sane because we do have a lot of friendly people around doing the work, and we’re working on something really cool that makes it worth it. Despite the stress, it is fun in a lot of ways. If the negativity and stress ever outstrip the fun and good, then I’ll know it’s time to move on.

  • wow…looking at your list, I guess I really am working in Hell with flourescent lighting! 🙁

  • This reminds me of a blog post I came across some time ago: Is your boss a prison warden or a party host? http://positivesharing.com/2006/09/leaders-as-party-hosts/
    In my case, my immediate manager is very much in the party host, empowering mode. My manager’s manager… not so much.

  • I freaking *love* that you clerked for SDO. I tend to find gatherings of lawyers generally ARE marked by hilarity and shenanigans…but maybe it’s only to ward off the happiness-killing parts of the job. Maybe because there’s all that creativity going to waste, and people crave the outlet.
    Kristin brings up a good point about when the humor usually comprises irony and sarcasm – then it seems like more of a defense mechanism than a real happiness-bringer. It may help you bond with coworkers, but it also highlights the bad bits.
    I used to work for a firm in which a few supposedly anonymous associates published a weekly e-mail that was often really funny, but also tended to be kind of mean. It purported to be good-natured ribbing, but the effect was to make anyone not part of the writers’ crowd nervous about getting on their wrong side. I was very glad to leave that place.

  • ..and good god don’t “try” so hard. You don’t concentrate with your eyebrows.
    Set a lolcat as your desktop background if you have to.

  • I really like this. Sad to say, my workplace scores on the last two only. And your idea for adapting this to home life is an excellent one. I shall be mulling this over myself. Maybe I’ll put the ideas forward at work, especially how we can inspire our customers to consider us fun to do business with.

  • Great thoughts — thanks for sharing. I came here via Hildy Gottlieb’s blog. Glad I did!
    Jeremy Gregg, Editor
    The Raiser’s Razor

  • Thanks Lexica for the link I printed the information and shared with my fellow team members and we have decided to use some of the tips shared therein as well as those from Gretchen in our daily operations.
    We have been going through a rough appraisal period and it really helped to lift our spirits and remind ourselves that our bosses only have as much power over us as we give them.
    Thanks a million.

  • Excellent point that the KIND of humor matters a lot. Just because something is a “joke” doesn’t mean that it can’t be undermining, mean, or upsetting.
    The point of the “levity” is to increase people’s feelings of trust, warmth, and light-heartedness. If the humor is making people feel defensive, cautious, and excluded — not good!

  • Light is good, as G.K. Chesteron said, “The angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”

  • M.

    In today’s e-mail, you wrote to, “lighten up.” How??? Seriously, how?
    I’m fairly serious. There’s a good side to this: I’m responsible and reliable. However, even when I think I’m loosened up, I don’t seem that way. Please, please write an article on this!

  • Well actually today I had the privilege to work for myself at my own ‘Out-Door-Happy-Home-Office’, a fun workplace.
    A Workplace that Inspires!!!
    You can even read a little ‘Short Story’ about it at:
    Or else you can have a look at:
    Where you can find several video impressions of an other fun workplace (for Internet Marketers) on a cruise ship!!!
    (Near my home town I recently had a ‘guided tour’ on a newly build big cruise ship myself, and it indeed looks like a fun ‘workplace’ it’s like a small village, with a lot of bars, restaurants, even a casino, theatre and a swimmingpool!)
    All the Best,
    To your Happy Inspiration,
    P.S. Mmmmmm, I can already smell the sea air, So feel free to have a look at my blogspots and buy a lot of products from them so that I can go on a cruise 🙂

  • shelley

    Our workplace environment is ideal! I teach 5 year-olds. Kindergarten is magical, as is every other grade level 😀
    I leave the house in the morning and think of myself as driving to school, not work.
    I appreciate the opportunity (and the responsibility)that I have to inspire young thinkers every single day. I am always careful to do it all with great excitement and of course, happiness.

  • Kelsey

    If I didn’t already know it was time to move on from my current job, I do now! This post and the comments are very insightful! Thanks to you all for providing much needed clarity!