Guru is always looking for ways to lift his staff. He watches them mooch around the office with their sunken eyes and curved backs and wishes there was something he could do to help himself not have to bear such a miserable sight. His efforts to perk them up have previously been limited to sending them emails telling them to perk up and an innovative “worst employee of the month” award, in which some of the fun of public hangings is recaptured.
Guru has to be honest and say that these haven’t proved to be hugely effective motivational tools, so he was delighted to stumble across an email detailing an exciting new approach to motivation being trumpeted by Ian Brownhill of BergHind Joseph, entitled “The importance of not being ernest [sic]“.
The email suggests that laughter can “transform workplace culture and increase employee engagement”. Apparently, laughter is gaining momentum and overcoming the conventional mentality that work should be a toil. The email promises that there are “Examples of where laughter has been effectively implemented within organisations”.
Well, Guru finds this all very exciting and has set about implementing laughter in his workplace by replacing “worst employee of the month” with “laughing employee of the month”. Each month Guru selects an employee who gets to spend the entire month laughing. There aren’t really any rules – it’s all very laid back and good natured. The only rules are that the laughing employee of the month must laugh for at least six hours of every day in the month and that the laughter must be judged to be infectious.
The implementation programme has not been without its difficulties. The current incumbent is going through a difficult divorce and has consistently been judged to be laughing in a way that is not infectious, and, on one occasion, was quite obviously trying to pass off crying as laughter. She was severely reprimanded and has been laughing relatively infectiously since then.
Guru’s feedback on his laughter implementation programme is, thus, that it can be an effective tool, but only if it is effectively enforced by a ruthless leader relying on a rigorous system of discipline.