Four Easy Ways to Build a Better Workpace and "SMILEAGE"

We spend too much time at work to ignore the advantages of creating a positive supportive environment. Research tells us over and over again how a healthy, connective sense of humor increases creative problem solving, builds loyalty and helps teams work more effectively. Here are four easy ways to increase the “smileage” and hence, the productivity, in your workplace.
1. Put up a Humor Bulletin Board
Invite staff, clients, folks from other departments to contribute to it. Award prizes for the best joke or cartoon of the month. Change the cartoons frequently. In addition to other things, humor is a way to let off steam or to make a wry comment about something. Changing the board often keeps the material fresh and diminishes the impact of the negative cartoon or joke that inevitably gets posted.
2. Share the funny things that happen in the office
One sophisticated CEO with whom I consulted, assured me, "This is corporate headquarters. Nothing funny ever happens here." A few minutes later, while I was visiting an adjacent office, a staff member revealed an elaborate hoax in which Wilber, their teddy bear mascot, had been stolen! A ransom note was
left demanding that four dozen homemade cookies be delivered to the men's room at a certain time and day or "un-BEARable things will happen to Wilber!"
The cookies were delivered and the bathroom elaborately staked out. A variety of men, including the oh-so-solemn CEO, used the facility under the suspicious eyes of women trying to look like they had a reason to loiter outside the executive washroom. The bear, indeed, was returned, but no one emerged with the cookies. The staff later discovered that the “bear napper” had entered the men's room and hidden the cookies in the room's false ceiling, to be retrieved in safety at the end of the day!
This episode played out over a week and no one in the adjoining offices knew it was happening! By not including their neighbors in the fun, the organization lost a chance to increase interdepartmental communication and teamwork, and maybe even solve the mystery!
3. Create Your Own Humorous Events
Have an award ceremony for the best, "Sorry I'm Late to Work but. . " excuse of the year, or to celebrate getting the budget in or passing the audit or presenting the annual report. Build a celebration around one of 100‘s of obscure holidays, such as Penguin Awareness Day (January 20) or the Day the First YouTube Video was posted (April 23, 2005). Events can be elaborate festivities or simply ringing a gong or passing out candy when a production quota is met.
4. Change your problem customers from abusing to amusing.
Do you have a client who is condescending or chronically late, or so out of it he thinks soap-on-a-rope is jewelry? Dealing with such individuals can leave any of us in a bad mood for the rest of the day. One clever company I work with developed a dual file system. One file was titled "Letters we sent" and another, "Letters we wanted to send!" (The latter letters were hand written to avoid any chance of showing up on the internet!) The group effort devoted to creating the "Letter we wanted to send" provided a catharsis that often left them in a good mood for weeks.
A Credit Union client told me they changed their entire staff’s approach to difficult customers
from avoiding them, to actually seeking them out. They did it simply by allowing the receptionist who successfully handled the most difficult person of the week to go home early on Friday. Suddenly difficult people were a desired commodity!
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Dr. Patt Schwab, CSP, speaks internationally on the topics of managing change, managing
others, and managing to have more fun. She is the author of: Leave a Mark, Not a Stain! — what Leaders need to know about workplace humor, The Obscure Holiday Handbook! – Outrageously fun reasons to CELEBRATE all year, What's So Funny About Long-Term Care? – Tips, ideas, and examples of how patients and
caregivers find humor in long-term care

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© Patt Schwab, Ph.D. Seattle, WA