The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up by Adrian Robert Gostick ISBN: 9780470195888
The Levity Effect uses serious science to reveal the remarkable power of humor and fun in business: that leaders who are lighthearted earn more on average than their peers; that entertaining workplaces have more loyal employees and customers; and that employees who are considered humorous are vastly more likely to get promoted--especially to senior-level jobs.
I admit, the authors are preaching to the choir, but I wouldn't say we only need a "how-to" book. There are a great deal of people (and I work with some of them!) who desperately need to read this book. The trick is getting them to actually read it. I've just suggested it for my company's internal business book club.
BTW -- my experience has been that the folks at the top are the ones who set the tone for whether levity is appreciated or not. My company actually does a fairly good job of bringing levity into the organization -- except for my division, who is lead by the "dour" type. I sometimes feel as if I work for a totally different organization than others in my company. So ... executives, take heed of the example you are setting!
There is no limit to ways in which you can have more fun at work. Some things however will depend on the size of the organization and the onsite services available to the company. ScanSource, Inc. is a 15 year old $2B global distributor of specialty technology products with 1000+ employees. How fun can that be, you ask? Well, we practice levity to the nth degree. Some ideas of our fun to spark your own creativity....
1. Designate a FUN MONTH - we bring in specialists to do lunch and learns on topics like financial planning/local activities of interest/parks & recreation, etc. We build a $$$ tree with gift cards of various ranges and award prizes for employees who bring real success stories of how they add FUN to their work - all departments.
2. In the summer, our cafeteria does company-wide all you can eat BBQs in our outdoor courtyard under the tent - $6.
3. We installed automatic soap and paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms 6 months ago. People still talk about this today - makes the simple things in life easy!
4. We hold brief 10 minute meetings without chairs -- keeps people on time and on task.
5. We bend over backwards to continue the company traditions of a family summer outing and a holiday party for the entire company. Including extended family in the company makes for happier employees.
6. We decorate at Halloween, Christmas and Easter and have employees bring kids to take holiday pictures and experience mom or dad's workplace.
7. We established our own charitable foundation to give employees an opportunity to give their time, talents and rewards back to our local community. You can actually have FUN doing it.
I could go on and on. It's important that the leadership team understands the Levity Effect and participates in activities too. It's crtiical to long term success.
If no one else in the office starts the humor or levity, I guess you can. If a situation is really stressful and work I will acknowledge it then make a joke of it. Most people laugh, realize there is understanding for what they are going through and they we can all work together to find a solution. Of course there will always be stick-in-the muds who refuse to lighten up. I personally refuse to become one of them. [ I must admit, where I currently work our CEO has a great sense of humor, but I have worked with some who don't. My heart goes out to all of you in that situation.]
I worked for a long time at a company where the group I worked in wanted to stay serious, despite the company's attempts at levity in terms of employee perks and fun events. Any attempt at any one of the staff in participating in these events was looked down upon and rated negatively in their overall ratings.
Now how would you deal with people who don't want to be better?
For the past several years, we have slowly been implementing various ways to promote levity in the workplace. I work for the University of Michigan, whose Business School introduced the concept of Positive Organizational Scholarship several years ago.
POS is based on looking at the positive experiences and abilities of an institution's workforce. While promoting this amongst nursing units, we attempted to implement more levity and gratitude into the workplace. I agree, it's not an easy process, but for the times it does work, it works wonders!
My supervisor asked me to order this book. We're looking forward to being able to read what others have utilized in assisting workplaces.
"What wild desires, what restless torments seize
The hapless man, who feels the book-disease..."
- Dr. John Ferriar (from the poem Bibliomania, 1863)