NIV- “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
The Message- “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.”
I have to give credit for the inspiration to write on this specific topic to Brad Ellison, Kevin Winningham and Larry Taylor. Brad wrote a phenomenal guest post Friday and it really got me thinking about how important it is to combine humor and laughter with business. Kevin and Larry responded to Brad’s post by leaving insightful comments and offering the verse above, Proverbs 17:22.
I love this verse because I love to laugh. Maybe you’re like me and when you get together with friends your stomach feels like you just did about 1,000 sit ups because you’ve been laughing so hard. It’s a great feeling. Like The Message translation says, a cheerful disposition is good for us.
Be careful not to skip over the second part of the verse though. Do you know anyone that just looks burned out because of stress? I’m sure we all know someone like that. That stress could be the effect of the overall magnitude and importance of their position within the company. Maybe they are in a highly competitive job setting where they need to continually perform. Or maybe they are even stressed over the future possibility that they may lose their job. The outcome of a highly stressful environment is burnout. It may not be after a month. Maybe not after a year. But eventually that individual is going to hit the burnout stage.
Sometimes I wonder when organizations became so serious and so cut throat. We call it “corporate”. And that’s exactly why my generation despises the thought of working in Corporate America. When did we begin adopting phrases like “no pain, no gain”? In my opinion, it’s become obvious that the old ways of doing business are not working effectively anymore. Just look at heart-related disease which is higher than ever (and one of the major reasons is stress).
So what types of changes can companies make going forward? This is where Proverbs 17:22 comes in. It’s time we inject some laughter and humor into the workplace. We are there 40+ hours per week. If we are going to be there 1/4 of our week, we might as well have a little fun.
A recent study conducted at Canadian financial institutions made this discovery:
“Managers who facilitated the highest level of employee performance used humor the most often.”
Also, according to Dr. David Abramis, a professor at Cal State Long Beach who has studied fun at work for years:
“People who have fun on the job are more creative, more productive, better decision-makers, and get along better with co-workers. They also have fewer absentee, late, and sick days than people who aren’t having fun.”
So when we release tension through laughter and having fun, it allows us to relax, which in turn increases our capabilities to perform.
Maybe you’re a skeptic though and are asking…Can the benefits to having fun be measured? Actually they can. It’s done through comparing the absenteeism, tardiness, and turnover rates pre-program implementation. So, in other words, employees miss less work, are more prone to be at work on time and stick around longer because they enjoy being at work. Sounds like a win-win to me.
So with that in mind…I’m going to do something different than I have done in the past. Instead of making a list of ways we can implement humor individually and in the workplace, I’m going to go out on a limb and let you, the readers, offer ways to make this happen.
What do you guys think? What specific ways can we inject laughter and fun into the workplace?