Laugh Your Way to a Happier Workplace
Recent studies reveal that laughter can benefit your health and your job performance by boosting your immune system, increasing blood flow to promote alertness and relieve your body of stress and tension for up to 45 minutes after you crack up. Ten minutes of laughter can also burn up to 50 calories, so you can burn off those cookies you succumbed to in the break room! And laughter has social benefits too: increased communication, enhanced teamwork, group bonding and conflict diffusion.
Laughter in the workplace
Introducing fun into the workplace isn't entirely new. Southwest Airlines' President Herb Kelleher is known for his light-hearted approach to business, with stunts like settling a legal dispute with a public arm-wrestling match (which he won) or going to work on a random day dressed up as Elvis. And Ben and Jerry's has a Joy Gang, a group of self-selected employees that encourages morale-building activities like creating humorous skits and themed staff meals.
Even if your company doesn't have a Joy Gang, you can still have fun at work, laugh more, achieve real work satisfaction, and really love your job. Here's how:
- Offer a Laughter Yoga class. Sounds unconventional, but Dr. Madam Kataria's Laughter Yoga is the newest trend, integrating unconditional laughter with yoga breathing. Since the body can't differentiate between real or simulated laughing, you get the same psychological and physiological benefits. Many companies are taking advantage of the 6000+ social laughter clubs in over 60 countries worldwide.
- Add humor to office communications. Introduce cartoons, news clippings, photos and appropriate jokes into office memos or daily emails. Start every meeting with a joke or tell a story about something funny that recently happened at work.
- Start fun office traditions. Start off meetings with an ice breaker, taking turns to come up with a fun activity. For example everyone could anonymously write their one "guilty pleasure" on a note card and then everyone tries to match the "guilty pleasure" to the "guilty" party.
- If you run your own company you can introduce fun work customs and create a pleasurable work environment. Find out how to start your own successful new business.
- Inject humor into lunch hour. Organize a stand-up comic to come into the office to relieve some stress. Companies like Google have various speakers such as Alton Brown from the FoodNetwork come in for entertainment. New comedians need to practice their material, so you can often make inexpensive arrangements for one to come in and lighten up the mood.
- Laugh at yourself and (gently!) at others. Letting your co-workers know you don't take yourself too seriously promotes a comfortable work environment that can lead to greater productivity.
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