ReadOasis Step 3
A manager at a company was interviewing a job candidate. The manager said, “We need a very responsible person for this job. We need someone who can take charge.” The candidate’s eyes lit up, and he responded with great enthusiasm. “Sir, your search ends here! I’m the one. In my previous job, whenever something went wrong, everybody said I was responsible.”
In this play on words, the manager uses “responsible” to mean “take charge.” But the candidate’s meaning is different. He means “to be the cause of something.” And in this case, that something is bad. In the real world, no serious job candidate will make this mistake in an interview. But maybe this candidate was actually joking at the time.
Telling a joke during a job interview might be risky. But authors Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher may disagree. They have written a book called The Levity Effect. “Levity” comes from the Latin meaning “light.” It carries the idea of treating serious matters with lightness and humor. The authors say that humor at work is a serious matter. They even claim that humor can help build a more productive, focused, loyal, and successful workforce. What is your place of work like? Is it fun? The Levity Effect claims a good workplace should be fun and humorous.
The book is based on research, and the research says this: When leaders create a fun place to work, there are a number of positive results. Employees begin to trust each other more, and they work more creatively. Communication improves. All this leads to lower turnover, higher employee morale, and better profits. The book even claims that funnier managers are more successful at sales, and so they make more money than their peers.
Let’s contrast this fun with the reality of the workplace. The New York Times has reported that 25% of American workers have cried because of stress at work. Almost half the workers in the U.S. say this. The office is a place of “verbal abuse and yelling.” Thirty percent say work is filled with “unreasonable deadlines.” Over 50% of U.S. workers do 12-hour work days, and around the same number routinely skip lunch.
Many people work hard in stressful situations. This alone is good reason to believe in the positive influence of humor at work. To use the levity effect, workers do not need to be comedians. The authors say it is “not so much about being funny. It is about being fun.” To make things easier, they even suggest 142 Ways to have fun at work. Here are some examples.
- From time to time, have a meeting at a local park.
- During a business trip, include a trip to a museum, ball game, or a fun place.
- Every month, hire a person to give employees a neck massage.
- Give employees a day off on their birthdays with pay.
- Every once in a while, play hockey in the hallway.
- Have a paper airplane flying contest.
Workers spend a great deal of their lives at the office. If the office is stressful, then this adds up to a lot of long-term stress. A stressful place is not only bad for one’s health. According to The Levity Effect, it is also bad for business, so this book gives practical advice for putting fun into work. It also gives examples from companies like Boeing, Nike, and Yamaha. In short, the research and examples show this: Humor and fun at work can help your office become more successful and productive. On top of that, levity can help make your office a great place to work.