Speaker for Womens Conference says Oh Lighten Up!
According to research, if employees are busting their gut -they’ll bust their butt.
A fascinating but totally boring study found that 85% of employees at the best companies are having a great time and having fun at work (the Great Place to Work Survey). The study found fun directly added to productivity. It also found that people learn very little when they are bored while humor increases memory and recognition.
Consider that stress reduces blood flow which delivers oxygen to the brain, an important thing you would look for in a productive employee. Just looking forward to a lighthearted event increases blood flow to the brain and reduces levels of at least 4 Neuroendocrine hormones associated with stress (University of Maryland Study).
A manager who hasn’t cracked a smile since the 1980’s is shown to have less effective leadership skills. The leader who laughs and smiles a lot is shown to be more inspiring, trustworthy, and indicates a stronger bottom line. People work harder for people they like and when people like each other they tend to laugh more together.
Leading with levity is about a lightness of attitude that engages and inspires others. Humor is an effective way to move business forward.
Would your employees and customers call you (or your organization) fun to do business with? If not, here are some suggestions borrowed from some of the top great places to work:
At Microsoft -everyday a person signs up to blast a song up across the room at 3 PM when energy levels are lowest.
At Lego -managers zip around in little mini scooters
At Prudential financial -managment set up a Mini Golf course at work
At a recent seminar a company suggested they hold Studs N Suds car wash where male managers wash employee’s cars
At Sprint -management have been known to incorporate a rap song into a corporate memo
One Company holds a spontaneous company wide fun shopping spree where they escort them their by limo
At Boston Pizza- to introduce a new menu the leadership dresses up like anchovies (or other food groups). The switchero is another program that was filmed on national television – the CEO of Boston Pizza swaps place with a server for one week, he took the bus and did split shifts for a week.
At one fortune 500 company a secret signal, like a thumbs up or the happy dance which indicates, “Its all good” that can be used at anytime by any employee as a universally recognized way to decrease tension.
At Scripts the company had a lighthearted race on children’s tricycles at a company event.
It’s hard to believe fun can bring greater productivity but it does. Here are some of the reasons why why i think humor impacts productivity:
1. Humor reduces hierarchy and formality- Levity removes the ‘us and them’ divide as long as you send the message that policies and procedures apply to everyone in equal measure. Humor demonstrates you can balance work demands with a sense of levity.
2. Levity Softens the Blow- humor softens the damaging edge of tough information. Things can be said in jest that might otherwise give offence. The result is communication of difficult information in a less personally threatening way.
3. Humor can facilitate learning -If people are to learn anything, they have to be interested; and if they have to remember it, they have to be involved emotionally. Nothing can compare with humor for this power to facilitate learning
Positive humor has been shown to have many beneficial effects, including ( here's what the research shows):
1. Lower experienced stress in response to stressors (e.g. Abel, 2002; Kuiper et al., 1993; Lefcourt et al., 1995), including quicker physiological adaptation (e.g. reduction in systolic blood pressure) to stressful situations (e.g. Lefcourt et al., 1995).
2. More positive mood and emotional responses (e.g. Abel and Maxwell, 2002; Lehman et al., 2001; Moran and Massam, 1999; Szabo et al., 2005).
3. Reduction of anxiety levels (Szabo et al., 2005; Abel and Maxwell, 2002).
4. Lower levels of exhaustion and burnout in stressful occupations (e.g. Killian, 2005; Mesmer, 2001; Talbot, 2000).
5. Higher levels of psychological well-being and lower frequency of psychosomatic illnesses (e.g. Fry, 1995; Cavanaugh, 2002; Sanders, 2004; Francis et al., 1999).
6. Higher self-esteem (e.g. Martin et al., 2003).
Remember it’s more important to have fun than to be funny. Seeing the humor in the day to day work is our only goal. Less than 20% of what we laugh at is anything joke- like.