#274 from Innovative
Leader Volume 6, Number 5
In The Workplace
Comedy Lifeline International, the authors
present seminars, talks and coaching sessions for
corporations and organizations. They cover topics from stress
reduction to conflict management.
(phone: 714-957-2617; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Humor, the joy of
jocularity, has benefits that are actually measurable.
The University of Southern California has tested subjects
both before and after a thorough laugh session and found that
laughing lowers the blood pressure, releases natural pain killers
(endorphins), and boosts the immune system.
Not bad for having fun!
Some of the
correlations on the relaxing power of laughter:
100 laughs = 10 minutes of aerobic benefits from a rowing machine
We can see the
future of medicine now . . . .
"Take two television comedy programs and call me in
the morning." Of
course, as with anything, there will be people who overdo it.
Next we'll be looking at twelve steps to conquering humor
addiction. "I dunno doc, I just start laughing and I can't
beneficial to the human spirit as well as the body, but is there a
place for humor and fun in the workplace?
You betcha! Let's
just look at what we've mentioned so far, a boosted immune system,
that translates into a healthier work force, meaning less sick
days away from work. Lower blood pressure, combined with the release of
endorphins, means a more relaxed person.
And a more relaxed person has higher productivity, is more
efficient, more accurate, has higher energy and works with greater
All of us have,
at one time or another, experienced an incident where we were
under so much pressure we would freeze up, or we'd forget why we
just came into a room, or we just felt like our mind was spinning
on so much input. The
result was that we didn't know where to start, so we wind up not
accomplishing a tenth of our capabilities.
You're not going crazy, you are under stress!
Remember all of those neat things that laughter does to
your body? Well, the
monster we call stress does the opposite. Your blood pressure
elevates, your immune system starts to get depressed, you get
depressed, and instead of feel-good endorphins being released, the
part of your brain called the limbic system kicks in to result in
a confused, unfocused person.
How does this effect your business? More
sick days, and lower productivity. To
paraphrase Boris Karloff's Frankenstein, "Stress-bad, Laughter-good!"
Okay so now
you're saying, (hopefully) "Laughter and humor is a benefit
to my company, but how do I incorporate humor into the workplace. I'm a manager, I’m a leader; red rubber noses, and rubber
chickens would clash with my blue pinstripe suit!"
I understand, don't worry we’re going to learn to crawl
before we do the Charlie Chaplin waddle!
Don't get tense, I'm using metaphors.
Humor to Work
There are many
ways to bring humor into the workplace, from a laughter bulletin
board, to a joke of the day.
You might even consider "humor breaks;" they are
much healthier than cigarette breaks.
One of the first things we would suggest is that you have a
meeting (we know how you managers love meetings) to discuss humor.
I can hear you now, "I can't just call a meeting to
talk about humor, I'd feel funny.
I’ll become the laughing stock!"
Those previous two thoughts point directly at the challenge
of bringing humor to work. "I'd
feel funny" isn’t a good feeling. "I'd become a
laughing stock" has definite negative connotations.
The history of business
and humor has been that humor is a negative.
The times are
changing. We have the
same 24 hours in a day that our parents had, yet we are more
pressured for time. We telecommute, e-mail, and yes even surf the
web. The changes in business in the past 15 years is the largest
change since the beginning of the industrial revolution. So call
that humor meeting, call it "Enhancing Morale", call it
"Stress Evaluation and Reduction Plan;" call it
whatever you want, but have that meeting.
The topics to be covered in this meeting should include:
1) What is the best way to incorporate humor into the place
of business; 2) What subjects are acceptable, as well as what
subjects or materials are offensive. Remember, the idea is to make
humor in the workplace a reality, so don't make the acceptable
topics so limited that people are afraid to bring in anything.
You may want to
consider zoning for humor, create areas where humor and fun are
the norm and not the exception.
Load the area up with toys things that are fun, anything
from a toy from McDonald's Happy Meal (they don't check to see if
you really are buying it for a child) to kaleidoscopes.
Consider adding a
section of each meeting to humor, even two or three minutes.
As humor becomes more a part of your business, the more it
will be perceived as acceptable.
With humor in every meeting there would be a portion that
everyone would look forward to.
Humor, as a natural part of communication, also helps break
the ice, allows people to feel more at ease, and tends to lead to
a higher level of agreement.
For generations, sales people have used humor to make it
easier for the customer to make his or her purchase.
We also believe that by having humor become an integral
part of work, your employees start associating work with fun.
So, start today. If
you focus on looking for fun and laughter, then you’ll achieve
it--and its advantages. If you're sitting there saying, “I can't focus on humor,
I've got astigmatism,” no problem, put on some rose-colored
Some people say,
"I'll play when I feel better." We say, "You'll feel better when you play!"