by Dawn Weitzel, Chamber President

Reaching the end of a job interview, an HR Rep asked the young engineer (fresh out of MIT), “What starting salary are you looking for?” The engineer replied, “About $125,000 a year, depending on the benefit’s package.” Without missing a beat, the interviewer inquired, “Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks’ vacation, fourteen paid holidays, full medical and dental, and a company car – say, a red Corvette?” The engineer sat up straight and said, “Wow! Are you kidding?” The interviewer replied, “Yep, but you started it.”

Okay, so you groaned, smiled, or possibly chuckled at this joke. But I got a reaction, right? Humor plays an important role in our lives. According to Mayo Clinic, laughter improves the immune system, soothes tension, relieves pain, helps to connect with others, and lessens depression and anxiety. Furthermore, executive recruitment firm Robert Half International reported that 85 percent of senior managers would hire people who have a sense of humor over more serious and equally qualified applicants. Laughter at work helps to bond people as teammates, improve morale, boost creativity, and release stress.

So, let’s take a look at humor in the workplace and how we can apply it.

People who laugh at themselves have an advantage over others. Many psychologists believe that the ability to laugh at oneself creates resiliency and approachability (no one wants to work for a sourpuss). A sense of humor improves recovery time after disappointments, reduces anxiety, and leads to fewer mistakes.

Customers get comfortable. It’s easy to make people happy by fostering a joyful atmosphere. When customers see your positive attitude and experience your wit, they’ll want to be around you. Happy clients spend more money, so lighten up!

Humor spurs initiative and generates relationships. Pleasurable work is a motivator. It creates a healthy environment for those around you, which leads to higher levels of trust with employees, customers, and vendors.

Humor boosts creativity. Laughter opens people up to new possibilities and frees cluttered minds to generate new ideas. Great thoughts come from clearing the brain of the mundane.

How to foster humor in your workplace:

  • Hire people with a sense of humor. Choose those who are self-confident and don’t take themselves too seriously. An upbeat nature and willingness to laugh are good signs.
  • Create a committee to organize playful activities that have a specific purpose, such as idea generation, celebration of achievements, or team development.
  • Collect and share funny quips, cartoons, and jokes. Jot down comments that make you chuckle and then share the humor. Add a witty, company-related “quote of the month” feature to your newsletter.
  • Even if you don’t shine at telling jokes, slip in a funny anecdote to keep your listeners interested. Meetings with levity put people at ease, so, throw in an occasional self-deprecating story.
  • The ENM Chamber board of directors is setting the stage for fun by taking the seriousness out of its 2019 annual meeting/dinner. Our murder mystery event is on Monday, November 18, so register today. Get ready to loosen the tie and have a good time – because sometimes, murder can be fun.