The Fool is a fun place to work. We believe that life and work cannot be separated, and rather than balancing, we try to integrate them. We want all Fools to think about how they can add fun to their day and how they can love their work. Everyone is encouraged to take time out of their day to socialize, play, exercise, create, or relax.
It’s important to create friendships within the company. Understanding, and maybe even liking, each other is going to make us a better, more productive, and happier company. We ask about friends in our employee engagement survey twice a year.
The number one way that we encourage fun is to ensure that each Fool is actually in a job they love. It’s fun to take a break but we also want people to love what they do. If you ever talk to our Chief Investing Officer, Andy Cross, you will know that he loves investing and it’s fun for him every single day. The same is true of many Fools. Laura, a member of our business intelligence team, loves data – LOVES IT! I’m serious! Just ask her a question about Excel and her excitement could launch the space shuttle.
It thrills us when someone will describe themselves as an investing nerd or a tech geek or marketing dweeb – all a little self-effacing, sure, but it shows that they have a lot of themselves wrapped up in their jobs and have maybe more fun with it than socially acceptable.
Fun also has a very direct business purpose. It decreases burnout, increases collaboration, and improves employee retention – WIN!
1) Do we hire for this value?
Yes. We try through both our application process and in the interview to learn more about you and see your personality. This one is easily misinterpreted by many candidates (please don’t tell me a beer pong story). We do want to know what makes your eyes light up inside and outside of work. I don’t judge what you do for fun – I just want to see that you don’t take yourself too seriously.
2) Will we fire for this value?
This is the value where I get the most questions on our monthly culture tour. I explain at the beginning of the tour that values are ONLY really values if you will hire and fire for them. Everyone nods as we discuss Collaborative, Innovative, Honest and Competitive. Then we get to FUN! It’s easy for our visitors to see that this is a fun atmosphere and to understand why fun could be a desirable value, but I almost always get a sideways glance and either concerned whisper or snarky comment here – “You fire for fun?” It seems unbelievable in a business context – sure you value honesty like that, but fun? Really?
Yes, really. You don’t need to be the person leading the conga line (that’s my job) – but if you are cancerous to the culture and are making your coworkers miserable, our paths will soon diverge.
3) Can you see and feel this value walking through the office?
Yes, fun is probably the easiest value to see as you walk through the office. We have our game room, massage room, and nap room, but it really lives everywhere. From my desk right now I can see 1) large inflatable pool toys (swan, orca, shark, walrus, turtle) 2) a Nerf gun battle 3) several art pieces created by Fools at a happy hour 4) Five board games 5) wizard’s chess, wands and broomsticks (Firebolt and Nimbus) 6) a dozen jester hats.
The other part is just the feeling. As I’m writing the post I hear laughter coming from the tech team sitting next to me – and yes, they are talking about code. Behind me Lee is laughing about an upcoming event that he’s planning. It’s hard to sit here for more than five minutes without hearing fun. I think fun is reason that we are consistently voted one of Washington DC’s best places to work.
4) Is the value referenced frequently? When was the last time?
It’s certainly referenced through the constant laughter and passion of Fools every day, but the purpose of this question is more systemic. How do we ensure that Fun is constant? One of my favorite Culture Club rules is “If you have to make it mandatory, you have failed to make it compelling.” It’s also frequently used as a tie breaker. When there is a decision to make about anything from strategy to time management the kicker question is frequently “Which one is more fun for you? Do that one!”
Please note that our values are not actually rank-ordered. I call this #4 to help blog readers keep track. See the full list of values at Core Values to Live By.