The Power of Fun at Work

In Reader’s Digest, Don Snyder tells us that he noticed his employees extending their allotted break time. So he put this sign on their bulletin board. “Starting immediately, your 15 minute breaks are being cut back from a half-hour to twenty minutes.” He says that using humor, employees got the message.

All our lives we’ve been told that you have to be so serious to be successful. It’s nothing but a myth! According to the business journal, Human Resources Focus, 96% of executives surveyed said people with a sense of humor do better at their jobs than those who have little or no sense of humor.

I was conducting a Keynote Program on Humor In The Workplace at a sales award dinner for Old Kent Bank. Employees were sitting at tables with colleagues from their bank branch. During my program, I noticed that every table was laughing, but one branch was having more fun than any other branch. After I completed my presentation, the winners of the sales awards were honored. Guess which branch came in first? MMMMM.

Would you like to be successful and have fun doing it? Here’s how. Turn the bulletin board in your work area into a Belly Laugh Board. Designate half of the board as a spot solely for humorous items such as comic strips, funny greeting cards, etc…. Post this sign on your board– “Budget is a Latin word which means, ‘Whatever you need, you can’t have.'” A manager had this sign in his office: “Which way did they go? How many were there? How fast were they going? I must find them. I’m their leader!”

Turn your staff meetings into laff meetings by starting the meeting with humor. Have each employee tell a funny story about a recent incident at work. Employees vote on which story is the funniest, and a reward is given to the winner. It could be a candy bar, a dollar, free lunch or the employee gets to leave work 15 minutes early which is a very popular reward. Why do this? Several research studies have shown that after people laugh, they become more creative at problem-solving. And isn’t that just what you need in your staff meetings? People who can solve problems. Humor promotes creative thinking.

Host a Positive Attitude Party at your work area. Each time an employee makes a negative remark, he/she has to donate 25 cents to a Positive Attitude jar. Once the jar fills up, throw a party that, ironically, was funded by negative attitudes.
What’s the difference between an employee who has fun at work and an employee who doesn’t? The employee who has fun at work makes a concerted effort to have fun. That’s the difference. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you really want to have fun at work, then you probably will.

The Associated Press printed a story about a 3 year legal battle in Syracuse, New York. The adversaries were Federal Express, the shipping giant, and a little coffee shop. The battle was about copyright infringement. When the coffee shop first opened, it called itself Federal Espresso. The shipping giant said no way. So, the owners agreed to change the name and they came up with Ex-Federal Espresso. The shipping giant didn’t think this was funny. Finally, they reached a settlement, and the coffee shop now has a new name: Freedom of Espresso. Humor gives power to the weak and neutralizes the strong.

Make your job fun and look forward to going to work each day!


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