Employees at SAS Institute in Cary, N.C., consumed $216,000 worth of M&Ms on the company’s “M&M Days” in 2009. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but SAS revenues have increased for 33 consecutive years. —Harpers and New York Times
Thirty-four percent of 754 employed Americans plan to look for a new job when economic conditions improve, according to a new poll. Forty-eight percent of them cite loss of trust in their employer as the reason. Source: 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey ~ Deloitte, New York
“Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun.” —Colleen C. Barrett President Emerita of Southwest Airlines.
Can you put in eight to 10 hours at work every day and still have fun? Many experts say, yes. In fact, more and more agree that a workplace filled with laughter increases productivity and profits and reduces turnover. With numerous studies showing that anywhere between 55 and 60 percent of employees would seek other jobs when the economy improves, now is the time to turn that frown upside down.
The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported that children laugh an average of 400 times per day, but the average adult over the age 35 only laughs 15 times per day.
A study from researchers at Loma Linda University found that “laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and increases muscle flexion. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being,” the Business Journal reported.
So, what does this mean for the workplace? Studies show businesses that engage and energize their workforce are more productive and have higher retention rates. Many employees have left a better-paying job for one that pays less. A positive work environment rates as one of the top reasons in study after study as a top reason that employees are dedicated to their work and why they stay.
With that in mind, it is important to break up the normal routine and do something different — and inspire your employees to laugh.
Again from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: “’Taking’ 15 minutes a day to work on laughing is not a loss of time; it’s a productivity booster. Laughing helps people clear the cobwebs from the brain and helps the creativity juices flow. Great companies and leaders share these believes and leverage the positive power of laughing and healthy humor in their teams.”
A once-a-year trip to the mountains, birthday celebrations, or something silly like having a “crazy hat day,” can go a long way to make a big difference. Small, informal and fun celebrations are many times more effective than a once-a-year formal event.
Here are a few more examples of simple but powerful ideas and tips used by different organizations to energize their workforce:
• Dedicate one day a week to serve high tea and discuss corporate values and other important issues;
• Send associates crayons and blank paper to render their view of the company;
• Send bimonthly newsletters to employees that features new employees, “Guess that Baby” contests and other puzzles and contests through which winners can receive prizes;
• Randomly suspend work for a few minutes to play Nerf basketball. Shooting a basket wins a candy or soft drink;
• Hold a joke contest;
• Establish productivity contests that require the manager to personally wash the car of each employee who surpasses the goals; or
• Hold a bake-off contest.
These are inexpensive, creative ways to have fun. Forward-thinking businesses will budget a small amount for these kinds of activities that can pay off in the long run.