The benefits of the weirdo colleague during a staff meeting cannot be underplayed. We’ve all been there, and there are many reasons why leaders should embrace this humour and connection in the workplace. Relationships and laughter in the workplace build creativity and confidence. It helps people bond and promotes inclusiveness, with many associated health benefits.
A Standford University study of 1.4 million people in 166 countries found the benefits of laughter and fun include reducing stress. Laughter causes an increase of positive endorphins from a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which acts as a messenger to the body’s nervous system to tell it how we feel. Endorphins are like a natural pain relief and provide feel-good chemicals to put us in a better state of mind.
So why laughter in the workplace? Laughter helps us to build connections with those around us. When we build relationships, the connection made establishes a bond, develops trust and respect, and they are great for our mental health. If you don’t have connections at work, the chances of a negative experience increase, resulting in a poor culture. In a poor culture, people are afraid to speak up and share ideas, and this negativity can lead to reduced workflow and discomfort in collaborative settings.
Laughter fast-tracks the brain for better concentration and focus. So at that 3 pm staff meeting after a day of juggling demands, interactions and requests – let’s break out the laughing before we do anything else. Sgroi, in a 2015 research, found productivity was increased by more than 12% when laughter was added.
Jokes and laughter aside, how can we channel the bonds built to create productive workplace cultures that scream creativity and innovation?
- Start with knowing your people. What are their needs and wants? What makes them tick? Not only do you need to understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses, but you also need to know and share your own too.
- Use language that primes them for your expectations, e.g. I’d appreciate the report of 15 pages to be submitted by Friday. We are setting them up for failure if we don’t let them know what we want and expect.
- Show gratitude and emotion. By adding affective, or feeling, words (such as appreciate), we create a connection that ensures people understand their actions affect others.
- Manage conflict. Conflict is a healthy part of all relationships: how we deal with it matters. Acknowledgement of the past and the feelings of the present must be addressed, but focusing on the future allows mistakes to be a standard part of creativity and success.
I dedicate this blog to my weirdo colleagues who make me laugh and create an atmosphere of support where a failure is a learning tool, not a negative event. We’ve connected over the weirdest things to achieve what felt like the impossible.
Go forward and be weird!
Check out other articles Candice has written here.