Lately I’ve had conversations with my HR peers about how different the atmosphere is in their respective offices. Unfortunately, in this case “different” = “worse”. Things are quieter, people are keeping their heads down, fewer people go out to lunch, haven’t seen a happy hour in a while, not as much laughter…lot of people just clockin’ in and clockin’ out. You know what I’m talking about.
Psychology Today says that there is actually a whole lot of merit to the old adage that “laughter is the Best Medicine.” Evidence suggests – pretty strongly – that “laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.” Researchers at Texas A&M University discovered that “laughter might… significantly increase a person’s level of hope.” That, by the way, is something we could all use a lot more of these days. Those of you who practice Zen (big on the HR circuit) know how important humor and laughter are to achieving true enlightenment. I could quote and reference the benefits of laughter all day long, but I won’t because this is a blog not a term paper…you’ll just have to take my word for it. So let’s just assume for a moment that more laughter in the workplace is a good thing…a really good thing. Are we doing anything to heighten its prevalence? Do we have programs designed specifically to encourage more laughter in the workplace? Do we have a Chief Laughter Officer? Do we intentionally create an environment in which laughter is not only permitted, but actually encouraged? I’m guessing you’re saying “no,” so I’m asking, “why?”
- Why not show a classic comedy over lunch in the board room?
- Why not have a company-wide hilarious You Tube clip of the day?
- Why not ask your leadership team to display more self-deprecating humor?
- Why not tell jokes?
- Why not invite a comedian to the next Holiday Party as opposed to a DJ (that’s what iPods are for)
- Why not screen for sense of humor when hiring people? Seriously, I think that’s pretty important.
- Why not put a keg in the corner on a Friday at 3:00 and see what happens?
- Why not hold a leadership roast from time to time and invite the entire office to participate?
- Why not create a list of “You know you work for [insert competitor's name] if….”
- Why not appoint someone to actually be in charge of injecting more humor into the workplace? I actually kind of like that Chief Laughter Officer idea…
I can neither guarantee nor even suggest that these ideas will create laughter. But you get what I’m driving at. And don’t I know that my fellow HR purists will say laughter leads to harassment and harassment is evil. That’s cool, whatever. So what are you clowns doing to make sure the workplace is freakin’ funny? Would love your comments/suggestions…