Chapter 8 Pg’s 182-183 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki
To fully appreciate the many and varied benefits of adding humor into the work environment, one can start with the research that has demonstrated that humor has a significant impact on our health. Studies in publications including the Journal of Behavioral Medicine and the American Journal of Medical Science support the health benefits of humor. Laughter releases hormones that reduce stress and enhance the immune system; it oxygenates the blood, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes muscles. We all encounter stress on some level in our professional lives, and often this is compounded by stress in our personal lives. Employers who incorporate humor into the workplace will likely have healthier, happier employees. According to Linda Melone hD, a clinical psychologist and Pepperdine University professor, humor creates positive responses in three ways: “Laughter triggers an emotional uplift. In the work environment, it also triggers our cognitive process and gives us added perspective. physiologically, laughter counteracts negative thinking and other emotions: chronic anger, anxiety and guilt feelings associated with an increase in the incidence of health problems.”
The additional benefits of humor are more abstract but equally appealing for the results it produces. Humor stimulates creativity, positive attitudes, and morale, as well as lessens anger, absenteeism, and turnover. According to humor coach Ann Frey, author of Laughing Matters, “A willingness to laugh, plus a sense of lightheartedness, equals a fun, productive workplace. If your employees are happy, they will bring greater energy and enthusiasm to their jobs and your company will function at peak performance. It’s not rocket science.”
Indeed, humor is not “rocket science,” but it is a fundamental joy that is often absent at work. The absence of humor results in employees who are unhappy and inevitably look elsewhere for a job. Employee turnover is expensive to an organization as it takes time and money to interview, train, and integrate each new employee. The current generation of employees expects to work longer hours than were typical for previous generations, but they’re also looking for a fun, supportive environment that is more relaxed than the formal, buttoned-up office culture of the past. Studies have also shown that organizations with a fun-at-work ethic are extraordinarily successful. Among the standouts are Southwest Airlines, General Electric, Kodak, AT&T, Money Mailer, Quaker Oats, and Playfair, a company founded by Matt Weinstein, author of Managing to Have Fun.
Herb Keller, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, said, “If work is more fun, it feels less like work.”Southwest is often used as a case study for a company that encourages humor and fun and can demonstrate that it has a positive effect on the bottom-line results:
* the fewest customer complaints eighteen years in a row, according to the Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report
* profitable for thirty-one consecutive years
* the “Second Most Admired Company,” according to Fortune magazine * less than 10 percent employee turnover rate * a $10,000 investment in the airline in 1972 would be worth more than $10 million today