Stop Making Me Laugh. I'm Very Busy And Important
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy - some guy who's name probably wasn't Jack.
It’s been well documented that laughter can reduce stress
and provide many other personal health benefits. And few areas of life are more stressful than work. So, not surprisingly, the boffins in the know have found that office humour can reduce work stress, boost team morale, bring people closer, etc and etc. Yes, we've all read the statistics thank you - please move on - but most interestingly, according to Janet Holmes' Journal of Pragmatics, humour can actually provide insights into the distinctive culture which develops in different workplaces. Indeed, a useful tool for promoting productivity.
Why is it then that top members of management can be known to shun the joys of a bit of workplace banter? Even in the face of tough financial times, is there a place or even time for the 'frivolity' of socialising?
I once worked for a very forward thinking company where the man at the top of the corporate tree actually donned an apron and made tea for a team of sales people as a prize for great customer service. How many of your own Managing Directors or Partners could you imagine doing that?
My own role was extended soon after my appointment to the task of introducing humour into the workplace, dreaming up and organising regular fun team in-works-time events following an introduction to The Fish Philosophy at a seminar I was paid to attend by the same employer. And yes, the apron donning Managing Director was my idea. I guess I may have been chosen for this task after taking over the writing of the once dull staff magazine and frequently posting jokes and lookalike competitions comparing senior staff members with cartoon characters like Homer Simpson. I don't know though... But suddenly, staff began to look forward to each issue and were actually reading it. Suddenly, right there, a whole new culture of fun AND productivity was born.
How could I leave such a place? Well, the pay was sh*te. Come on; it's not all about helping others :-D
Bringing Business Closer to Staff & (yikes!) Customers
"Eww. You mean, I have to socialise with Mrs Henry who just bought our latest bikini line razor?"
The short and curly answer is YES. If you want her to come back to buy the refills, skin calming astringents and tell the whole of her local community centre pals to do the same.
The Fish! Philosophy boasts that it "fulfills the most basic needs of human beings who, in turn, fulfill the needs of the organisation - more connected teams, better
communication, extraordinary service and higher staff retention." In short, it's about going the extra mile for customers and equally importantly, for your colleagues. And - perish the thought - finding out you might have a lot in common with the people under, above and beside you at work. Although, watch out for the person that is all three. Stalking is a crime, people.
In my own experience it was a very American and overly gushing approach to a happier workplace. But I took it's basic principles home and gently applied them to a more reserved British office audience. It worked. They laughed. They were meeting and greeting customers with a smile. Staff had a less practised telephone-in-sick voice. And they sold stuff.
How funny is that?