Seriously, you need levity

Cat in the Hat“It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.”

— Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat


Does your workplace know how to have fun?

If it doesn’t, then it’s little more than a hall of drudgery where workers muddle forward on a vague mission statement.

Employees shuffle in, mumble their obligatory “good morning”s, fire up their machines and get their stuff done. A day’s work, a day’s pay. They leave and come back tomorrow.

What’s missing is levity. The working conditions in which you and your employees know how to lighten up, have a little fun and still achieve objectives.

“Lighten up” is the key, because there is a difference between constructive levity and inappropriate tomfoolery.

Constructive levity is essentially employees enjoying each other’s company and leveraging that toward productivity. They share laughs, non-offensive jokes and see humor in things.

The benefits:

  • It reduces stress.
  • It cuts absenteeism.
  • It fosters teamwork.
  • It breeds creativity.
  • It rubs off on customers and clients. (Happy workers beget happy customers.)

Inappropriate tomfoolery is humor that gets out of hand or is hilarious to only one party. It often dissolves into not-so-funny harassment claims.

Put the brakes on it fast if it:

  • Focuses on protected characteristics or stereotypes of protected characteristics, like race, age, sex, religion, etc.
  • Prevents workers from performing their jobs.
  • Causes damage to company or personal property.
  • Is tinged with violence or threats.

Of course you, the manager, set the tone. You have unmitigated control over the atmosphere, and it doesn’t take much effort on your part to make it jovial. Step 1: Allow levity. Step 2: Join in.

Is your workplace fun? Take this self-audit to see how your workplace measures up on the fun-o-meter.

Answer “yes” or “no” to following statements laid out by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher in their book, The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up.

  • New employees are made to feel welcome.
  • Meetings are positive and light.
  • We have fun activities at least once a month.
  • It’s common to hear people laughing around here.
  • I can be myself at work.
  • We have a lot of celebrations for special events.
  • When brainstorming, we like to have fun.
  • My boss is usually optimistic and smiling.
  • Customers would call us fun to do business with.
  • I have a friend at work who makes me laugh.
  • We have a good time together.