Research into that elusive beast known as happiness suggests that the frequency of positive events happening throughout the day is more important than the intensity of a positive experience. So better, those happy researchers say, to have 15 small happy events spread out throughout the day, rather than just one big happy event. In the workplace, researchers have found that work happiness is far more dependent on the routine moment-to-moment interactions than on more stable long term conditions (such as salary or job title).
Last week had a “behind the scenes” theme running through it for me. I got a behind the scenes glimpse into a colleague’s business, attended a behind the scenes chocolate-fest experience at our favorite local chocolate shop, and watched copious behind the scenes special features from the hit TV show Breaking Bad. Offering your customers a backstage pass to what you do is becoming more and more commonplace. Disney World offers a Backstage Magic Tour; in Mumbai you can get a behind the scenes tour on the latest Bollywood movie set. But don’t think you have to have a fun business to offer something like this: a funeral home in the states offers behind the scenes tours and the next time you’re in Paris you may want to pop underground for a Paris sewer tour.
There’s a reason that U.S. advertisers spend between $20 and $60 billion dollars a year trying to make people laugh and why 73% of all Super Bowl ads use humor. As ad man Arnie DiGeorge says, “In a world of clutter, you must entertain before you educate.”
A Stand Up Economist?
Speaking of money, did you hear the one about the economist who walks into a bar…and delivers a stand up comedy routine?
Alberta-based Rogers Insurance has an official “Director of Humor” to help ensure “there is a regular dose of humor in the office.” Employees must apply for the four month term position by submitting a humor plan of attack (as opposed to a humorous plan of attack, which brings to mind a Monty Pythonesque skit involving warriors in clown shoes invading Luxembourg with loaded cream pies).
Last week I had a chance to sit down with a couple of real dirt bags and tour the office of the construction company DIRTT Environmental Solutions, based in Calgary, Alberta. DIRTT has been recognized as one of the top-50 managed companies in Canada, and yes, employees are affectionately known as “DIRTTbags”. The energy in their fun and funky office is infectious – this was not your typical Dilbertesque office space or typical workplace culture. A clue to their self-deprecating style and inspiring culture can be found on their website’s company description:
Regular readers know that I like to stress the importance of rituals and traditions in the workplace as an easy way to boost morale and foster a sense of team spirit. I’m especially fond of rituals that make it fun not only for employees, but for the customers as well. And if you can conjure up a tradition so wacky that it generates some free publicity for you, well then you’ve truly scored a home run.