How do you start adding more humor into the workplace, especially if you work in an overly serious environment?
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that ideally humor becomes one of your core values, so much so that it becomes ingrained in your culture, in the very fabric of your workplace. And ideally, the humor would simply arise organically without ever having to do anything or else you face the prospects of it being viewed as window dressing.
So having said that, here are a few simple things you can do to encourage a lighter, more fun workplace:
1. Create a humor bulletin board, then leave a few disposable cameras lying around the office to encourage people to take fun impromptu photos that you can post on the board.
2. Start a humor at work squad. If you want the team to be taken seriously though, require people to not just volunteer for it, but to apply for the positions. And give them a small budget to get started. The squad (notice how I carefully avoid using the term “committee”) should set a few minimum goals over the next 6-month period, small goals if necessary, to get the fun ball rolling.
3. Create a humor library of resources – books, DVDs and audio CDs (for the commute) and encourage people to sign them out and share their own ideas for items that should be included in the library.
4. Create a humor first aid kit of fun office toys and props and encourage people to access the first aid kit when they are faced with a serious emergency.
5. Create a fun, wacky code of ethics that encourage people to lighten up and which reminds people to bring their sense of humor along for the ride.
6. Create some fun awards that recognize some offbeat accomplishments, including an award for best sense of humor.
7. Keep asking the basic question: is everyone having enough fun? Yes, results are critical, yes we need to work hard, but at the same time, “Is everyone on the team having fun WHILE they work hard?”
Again, you need to be careful that doing things like this doesn’t create cynicism by being viewed as a band-aid solution in the face of more serious workplace issues that are getting ignored.
Ultimately, a sense of fun and humor are also the end result of working in a successful workplace that values and respects employees, so never lose sight of the fact that culture drives success, and that building a strong, inspiring culture is not about things you can check off on a to-do list or fun events, it’s about the small, consistent ways you live your core values out loud.
For more tips and ideas, be sure to sign up for our Humor at Work weekly e-zine, and check out our e-book, “340 Ways to Put Humor to Work.”
Copyright Michael Kerr, 2011, www.mikekerr.com, www.inspiringworkplaces.com
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