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…
Categories: Communication, Environment Beer, Clowns, Communication, Employee Engagement, Employee Satisfaction, family Guy, Harrassment, Human Capital, Humor, iPods, Laughter, Office Environment
My four-year old some times tells me she wants to play, but “not a game that’s about winning.” I can understand that – sometimes the prospect of losing is just too much. I played the most competitive of sports in High School – Jazz Band. I lived for those performances when I got to compete in a dueling sax part. It’s what I trained all those short hours for (I played the baritone sax and lugging home that huge honker of a horn was no fun…practice was a rarity). I really hated Syd (alto sax and chief rival). He thought he was so good and even though he now plays professionally for an awesome jazz singer and is married to her and she’s hot, he wasn’t all that good back then. But he made me work hard. I didn’t like being second to him, and I certainly didn’t like “losing” during those duels. Syd was my competition and competition was good for business…
I got to thinking about competition in my life these days. I don’t play the sax anymore, but I do get on the squash court, tennis court, and golf course from time to time - two involve a genteel kind of competition and the other just involves beer. But what about the place I spend 2/3 of my waking hours every day? I realized, I don’t really have any real (external) competition in my HR career. Sure, there’s myself. There are my peers, but we are collaborative rock stars and hardcore competition rarely enters the picture. Line employees, on the other hand, who are tasked with developing business or providing a product/service to clients have the constant presence of direct competitors to fuel that desire to win. Generally they like the game, the challenge, the thrill of victory. They get to enter into battle every day, they get to measure their success with tangible results – you either win or you lose…there are no ties.
So I’m trying to figure out whether we have the same in HR? Does one need that competition to truly excel? To innovate? To perform? Do we have the same drive to win? Is it the absence of a direct competitor that puts us in a different class? Are we inherently viewed as not having the competitive fire? Are the operations leaders playing on the football team and is HR playing in the marching band? Maybe it doesn’t matter – maybe the football team needs the marching band to win and the marching band needs the football team to play. You’re either on one or the other and that’s ok…
I say that in order to win, one needs to compete. In order to compete, one needs a competitor. Who or what is HR’s competitor and do we need one to truly advance our calling?
Categories: Career, HR Profession Beer, Competition, Competitor, Football, HR, Jazz, Marching Band, Reputation, Rivalry, Saxaphone, Squash, Tennis, Victory, Winning