Last week while in the local produce shop, my young daughter pointed at the colourful capsicums and proclaimed, “Look Mum, pepper-cums!” While it wasn’t exactly comedy gold, it did give several of us the giggles – even the burly builder who was waiting behind me had a chuckle. Always drawn to the limelight, my daughter basked in this attention and with a flourish gave an impromptu tap dance as she exited the shop.
As we drove home, I thought about how much I love to laugh and yet do so rarely on any average day. We’ve all heard the fact that children laugh several hundred times a day, while adults laugh only a fraction of that amount. Are we too busy working, parenting, trying to make ends meet and just plain surviving to see the funny side of life?
A successful day at work is usually measured by the completion of a job or project, satisfied customers, a new client or receiving some positive feedback. Rarely do we report having a “fun” day at work. And yet if you have ever been involved in pranking someone at work – even something as simple as sticking tape under their mouse so it stops working – those are the times you go home thinking that was a fun day. Likewise any silly company event where everyone plays mock-Olympic office games with hula hoops and rowing office chairs are the ones that stay in your memory far longer than other days.
Far from being counter-productive, having fun at work improves morale and creates a workplace culture that staff enjoy being a part of, with very tangible benefits such as reducing staff turnover and improving employee advocacy for the business. Laughing is also reported to be good for our health by relieving stress and boosting our immune systems, supporting a healthier workplace.
Perhaps company owners, managers and team leaders should take up the challenge to increase the fun element in the work day. Give a chocolate fish prize for the best joke of the week, challenge your team to a paper plane contest, have a team Nerf gun fight (sorry, a suggestion from my kids), hold a charades or Pictionary competition, shout your team ice creams or play a fun song at that 3pm afternoon lull (who can do the Macarena?) If staff are a business’ biggest assets, surely we can incorporate some fun and laughter randomly into a day?
Imagine if managers lead by example and introduced some genuine silliness to the work place: we could all be laughing, skipping and tap-dancing our way through life.
Debbie Robson is Marketing Coordinator at UHY Haines Norton.