A Funny Thing

By Christine Neuberger

“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and doesn’t stop until you get to the office.” So said Robert Frost. When given the choice of doing something fun or going to work, most people would pick fun. But Southwest Airlines, Sun Microsystems and other profitable companies are discovering that an enjoyable work environment has value, observes Ronald P. Culberson, a coach, speaker and self-described “funsultant.” Why is humor a good investment in every workplace? People with a sense of humor do a better job, reported 84 percent of the CEOs and human resource directors surveyed by Robert Half International. A Hodge Cronin and Associates study found this: of 737 CEOs surveyed, 98 percent would hire someone with a sense of humor over someone without.

A socializing tool.
Research shows individuals perceived as having a sense of humor attract other people. In groups, humor cuts through tension. When people laugh, they look around at others, creating connections.

Physical benefits.
What happens to your body when you laugh? Blood pressure, temperature, breathing and heartbeat all increase. What happens next? An exaggerated feeling of relaxation sets in, says Culberson. He recommends adding a laughter program to your company’s health benefits.

A joyful attitude has value.
Even when confronted by adversity, laughter and humor make obstacles less daunting. A positive attitude helps you distance yourself from stress and deal with stressful circumstances reasonably. Use humor to defend against change.

Add fun to the workplace? Where?
Use humor in a meeting by injecting a funny quote or story into a presentation. Incorporate an item on humor in your performance evaluations. Include a cartoon with a memo. Add humor to emails and newsletters; such public places as doors, cubicles and bulletin boards; and at parties and recognition events. Make your work environment a more pleasant place and you’ll change attitudes, loyalty and productivity.

Consider these ways to boost your aptitude for humor: Humor abounds. Look for it, and you’ll find it. View routine situations with a different perspective, and you’ll see more humor. Give yourself a daily dose of your favorite kind of humor. With the help of sitcoms, movies or cartoons, keep up your humor aptitude. Maintain a humor file. Draw from the file when preparing for a presentation or for a rainy day.