Work Stress and Frustration: Problem and Purpose

Problem Statement

The quality of the work environment matters to employees and contributes to an improved worker productivity and motivation. The concept of fun while working is exciting, and research shows that it increases the employees’ productivity (Greene, Crumbleholme, & Myerson, 2014). At the same time, the idea of the implementation of fun at work may be problematic due to its tendency to disrupt the professional atmosphere and settings (Mahbubani, 2015). On the other hand, work stress and frustration are commonly cited as the most common killer of motivation (Hazelton, 2014).

One may define “fun at work” as the engagement of the employees in a set of playful and social activities, related or unrelated to work and designed to stimulate the individuals’ feeling of joy and amusement (Fluegge, 2008). Fun at work includes a number of negative traits such as the employees’ distraction from their professional tasks, and also carries multiple benefits such as minimized anxieties and fatigue, stress and boredom reduction (Decker, 2012). That way, even though the traditional opinion maintains that workplaces should have a serious and professional atmosphere, the contemporary managers are encouraged to employ fun at work as a powerful stress managing technique (Decker, 2012). The primary benefit of fun at work is its capacity to increase motivation of the employees which is an important aspect of productivity as explained by Mahbubani (2015) using the example of the same restaurant operating in New York and in Singapore. According to the author, the restaurant could work successfully with just 3 waiters in New York, but need 5 in Singapore due to the lower motivation by the managers (both financial and emotional) resulting in worse productivity of the employees (Mahbubani, 2015)

The general problem is that the number of cases of the employees reporting work-related stress has grown significantly over the last decade (Health Advocate, 2008). The majority of the employers recognize work-related distress as one of the main causes of the reduced productivity, burnout and depersonalization; yet, only 5% of the workplaces act strongly on the problem and perform measures to address it (Health Advocate, 2008). As a result, the distress caused by the excessive workloads and lack of initiative from the side of the employers leads to the employees’ attempts to deal with the issue on their own, which usually has negative outcomes such as multiple sick leaves (absenteeism), harmful habits (increased alcohol and nicotine consumption, substance abuse), and indifference towards work assignments (Health Advocate, 2008).

The specific problem is that the attitudes towards fun at work as one of the intervention strategies for stress among the employers and the employees may be different (HSE, 2009; Van den Bossche & Houtman, 2003). Besides, there is a large variety of methods through which fun at work may be employed which may lead to confusion of the managers; the choices of the activities are often dictated by several factors such as the sizes of the organizations, the number of the employees, the specificity of work a business performs to name a few (Van den Bossche & Houtman, 2003).

Purpose of the Study

In the proposed study, I am going to evaluate whether incorporating fun in the workplace can influence the employees’ motivation, performance, job satisfaction, and reduce stress. Besides, in this paper I attempt to explore how integrating fun in the workplace may increase the employees’ productivity and organizational performance.

The study will employ the qualitative method of research. The study will be designed as a survey based on a questionnaire. The respondents will provide their answers to a list of questions marking them according to five-point Likert scale. This approach will make the data collection faster (as opposed to the interview method that could take a very long time), and also will help the researcher to process the obtained information in order to conduct the further analysis. In addition, the research will review the business reports of the company in order to determine its overall productivity before and after the stress-management and fun events.

The questionnaires will reflect on the employees’ motivation, job satisfaction, collaboration, and performance, as well as the managers’ perspective of fun in the workplace. A sample of 100 respondents comprised of employees and managers will be selected by means of random sampling. Next, the questionnaires will be administered to the respondents through email in order to minimize the cost of the study. It is expected that the findings of the study will provide transferable results and have significant theoretical implications to promote further research in the field of fun in the workplace.

Research Questions

How does fun eliminate work stress? Studies have largely ignored this important question. Fun in the work environment appears to improve communication and reduce frustration (Lamm & Meeks, 2012). However, even though a number of benefits can be enjoyed by the organizations that choose to adopt fun in their workplaces, the lack of understanding associated with this management concept explains its slow implementation (Bolton & Houlihan, 2009).

As pointed out by Pink (2011) the three factors that contribute to an individual’s productivity and motivation are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. That way, one of the research questions of this study will be directed at the identification of the level of autonomy, mastery, and purpose among the sampled respondents and the correlation of these three factors with the quality of their performance. The next question reflected in the study will target the personal perception of fun in the workplace by the employees and the employers. Namely, I will attempt to find out whether or not both groups of respondents see the importance of fun at work as a stress-management technique and are they willing to participate or contribute to fun-related activities. Besides, the surveyed workplace might be already involved in some kind of stress-management measures; that is why one of the research questions will be focused on the success of the activities implemented by the organization, their adequacy for the specificity of the business and the organization size. Moreover, the fun and stress management-related activities conducted by the workplace will be studied to determine their type. Fluegge (2008) maintains that there are three main kinds of activities that are perceived as the most efficient stress-killers, they are social events (corporate parties and gatherings), celebrations of professional success (awards, promotions), and the appreciation of individual events (jubilees, anniversaries). The questions researching the presence and impact of such activities will be included in the study with the purpose to evaluate their contribution. The overall productivity and business success before and after the stress-management occupations will be evaluated by means of review of the company’s business reports.


Bolton, S. C., & Houlihan, M. (2009). Are we having fun yet? A consideration of workplace fun and engagement. Employee Relations, 31(6), 556-568.

Decker, W. H. (2012). Unauthorized Fun at Work (Goofing Off): Predictors and Implications. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(5), 1-7.

Fluegge, E. R. (2008). Who Put the Fun in Functional? Fun at Work and Its Effects on Job Performance. Web.

Greene, C., Crumbleholme, L., C., & Myerson, J. (2014). Sustainable cultures: Engaging employees in creating more sustainable workplaces and work styles. Facilities, 32(7/8), 438-454.

Hazelton, S. (2014). Positive emotions boost employee engagement: Making work fun brings individual and organizational success. Human Resource Management International Digest, 22-(1), 34-37.

Health Advocate. (2008). Health in the workplace: Meeting the challenge. Web.

HSE. (2009). Managing the causes of work-related stress: A step-by-step approach using the Management Standards. Norwich, United Kingdom, HSE.

Lamm, E., & Meeks, M. (2012). Workplace fun: The moderating effects of generational differences. Employee Relations, 31-(6), 613-631.

Mahbubani, K. (2015).Want to be more productive? Have fun at work. The Straits Times, p. A32.

Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Van den Bossche, S. & Houtman, I. (2003). Work stress interventions and their effectiveness: a literature review. Web.

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