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Laugh and Grow Rich?

Do we laugh because we are rich, or do we become rich because we laugh? A study by the Hay Group’s Center for Research and Innovation in Boston found a positive correlation between the size of executives’ bonuses and their use of humor. (More funny = more money?) The study of 60 executives also found that outstanding executives (as characterized by their superiors) used humor more than twice as often (a mean of 17.8 times per hour vs. 7.5 times per hour) during the study interviews as the so-called average executives.

A survey of 737 CEO’s by Hodge Cronin and Associates–an Illinois-based executive search and management consulting firm–found that a whopping 98% of them would rather hire someone with a good sense of humor than someone with a more serious demeanor.

Finally, considering that more and more companies are hiring first and foremost for attitude, then one could certainly argue that a healthy sense of humor might pay off financially.

At an organization level, 81% of employees who work for a Fortune magazine “Top 100” company that ranked as a great place to work by the Great Places to Work Institute, agreed with the statement “I work in a fun environment.” A study by Hewitt and Associates found that companies with higher levels of employee engagement outperformed companies with low employee engagement levels by 19% on shareholder returns. They also found that companies who focused on employee morale issues during the recent economic downturn came out of the recession much better off.

So maybe there is something to this notion of laughing and growing rich? Certainly companies such as Southwest Airlines, Zappos and Beryl Call Centers, have found that more humor improves the bottom line.

And regardless of the impact on finances, doesn’t life feel richer the more you fill it with laughter? And really, isn’t that the ultimate bottom line?

Michael Kerr,

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