Miles of Smiles Creates an Inspiring Workplace

Barry Williams likes to mix a lot of humor into his workplaces. As the former manager of Barney’s Motel in Brandon, Manitoba, he created a fly bounty to get people laughing over flies in the motel rooms, added hilarious slogans to his highway sign, and incorporated humor into his help wanted ads. So it was only natural that Barry would take that approach when he landed the job as the on-site manager for a service company at the Regina International Airport several years ago. Although he’s no longer there, I still love his story as a great example of how simple it is to make a big difference in people’s attitudes and in their workplace culture.

Barry created the STP program for his staff of 20 cleaners – the Smile Transfer Protocol Program. He created a large, colorful chart where participants could record their smile counts. Participation
was voluntary. It simply involved employees smiling at customers throughout their workday and counting how many smiles they could get returned back to them. Counting and recording was done on the honor system, and whoever generated the most smiles over the course of a week was rewarded with a free dinner for two. Barry even taught them how to smile in a way that truly appears genuine. And for added fun, he put a SMILE BOUNTY on the rather stern CEO’s head, wherein every smile returned from the CEO would be worth 10 normal smiles.

The end result? Although not everyone participated, those who did loved it. The CEO, after puzzling over why staff kept smiling at him, loved it. The other airport staff loved it and commented on the improved attitude of the cleaning staff. Almost everyone’s mood and attitude shifted for the better. And over 2,000-smiles were generated…enough to make you…well, smile.

Michael Kerr, Humor at Work, November 2015. Michael Kerr is an international business speaker and the author of six books. His latest book is The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank

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