The Deep Dive with Aga and Shani: Deep Fun at Work

The Deep Dive with Aga and Shani

Welcome to our monthly show where I, Aga Bajer, along with my fellow culture enthusiast and Wonder co-founder, Shani Persson, delve into topics critical to cultivating thriving cultures at scale. Our aim is to share practical insights, empower you to make better decisions and help you achieve remarkable success in your culture work.

Today, we shine a spotlight on Deep Fun at Work.

My curiosity about fun at work started 10 years ago. Since then, I asked more than 3000 people to tell me about the time they did their best work. One of the themes that consistently emerged was that we work best when we have fun at work.

But here’s the twist in the tail:

The fun they referred to had nothing to do with ping-pong tables or Friday pizza parties. It had everything to do with… the work itself.

Deep fun is what drives people to peak performance at work.

Deep Fun at Work - Aga Bajer

This is why in this Deep Dive, Shani and I explore this topic today!

Episode highlights

The pillars of a thriving culture

Aga’s research indicates that in order for us to do our best work, we need to have a sense of fun, meaning, and belonging.

The importance of fun at work

We often get pushback when introducing the idea of fun to leaders and organizations. We have associated fun with something trivial, and unimportant – and yet, deep fun is one of the key drivers of high performance at work.

Navigating risk, playfulness, and interpersonal connections

Fun can have a nuanced relationship with risk but it’s important to reduce the sense of risk through exploration and playfulness. In order to create an environment where individuals can take risks and find fulfillment in their work, we need trust, safety, and faith in our interpersonal relationships.

The essence of trust in the unknown

We dive into the concept of trust, drawing parallels to a discussion with Rachel Botsman, an authority on trust and a previous guest of the CultureLab podcast. Trust is rooted in our relationship with the unknown.

The dynamics of fun and the importance of contrasts

Fun needs a space that accommodates contrasting emotions. We talk about creating an environment that allows for the genuine expression of feelings, both positive and negative, without stigmatization.

Actionable steps to cultivate deep fun

Regularly asking team members about what brings them joy at work and actively listening to their responses is crucial. Identifying and aligning personal passions with work, can be a gamer changer.

Connecting joy and curiosity

By incorporating dedicated time for learning and exploration within the workweek, we allow team members to pursue their interests, even if seemingly unrelated. The joy and curiosity cultivated in these activities can have transferable benefits to their work.

Breaking the monotony

We need to break away from the monotony of sedentary work. Through incorporating activities like walks to re-energize and engage different senses beyond cognitive functions can drive creativity and help connect our body, mind, and environment surrounding us.

Humanizing the workspace

The role of humor and being authentic can create a more humanized workspace. Even failed attempts at humor can positively impact relationships, making leaders more approachable and likable.

Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.

More about Shani Persson

Shani is one of the founders of an experience design lab, Wonder. It’s a company aimed to inspire and support companies, institutions, groups or individuals to help themselves and others thrive through more human experiences. She spent more than 10 years in corporate people functions – driving change, and building culture and experiences for co-workers.

A nerd for anything human development, learning, leadership, culture and experiences that enhance our wellbeing and contribution. Loves exploring – cold plunges, meditation and biohacking included – to learn how we can lead fulfilled lives with healthy minds and bodies, and of course – designing impactful human experiences.

More about Aga Bajer

Aga is the founder and CEO of CultureBrained® – a boutique consultancy on a mission to empower purpose-driven leaders to make work synonymous with fun, meaning and belonging. Aga is passionate about cultivating thriving cultures where people do their best work and solve wicked problems. Before establishing CultureBrained®, Aga led consulting teams in companies like Hay Group, Korn Ferry, and PwC.

In the past 20+ years, Aga helped hundreds of clients to attract, hire, develop and retain A+ talent, accelerate personal and business growth, drive impact and create legendary cultures that scale.

Aga is the founder and host of a one-of-a-kind, global community for Culture Leaders, the CultureBrained Community, where members connect with outstanding peers to discover new ways of cultivating thriving cultures at scale in the brave new world of remote and hybrid work. She is the author of Building and Sustaining a Coaching Culture and the creator and host of one of the most popular podcasts on culture, the CultureLab.

Aga has worked with senior leadership teams of many major organizations, startups, and scaleups. Her client portfolio includes Microsoft, AWS, Nordea, ANZ, Ideo, Toyota, Porsche, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Citibank, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Leo Pharma, Hellenic Bank, Eurolife, Bank of Cyprus, Eurobank, Wargaming, Sanofi, Amdocs, SAP, and many others.

People mentioned in this conversation

Andre Fangueiro

Mykel Dixon

Books mentioned in this conversation

Superengaged by Nikki Gatenby

Additional resources

The Culture Playbook Guide.

Discover Your Personal Values.


Episode of the CultureLab podcast with Rachel Botsman- Unlocking the Power of Trust

Episode of the CultureLab podcast with Kristi Herold – The Role of Play in Shaping Workplace Culture

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