I’ve been mulling lately about the community laughter sessions I do and whether this is something that I should carry on, does it align with where I want to go, are enough people interested in coming along or is it taking up valuable time that I could be spending elsewhere on my business. I was talking about it with a business contact of mine and in sharing my thoughts about where I was, he was quick to respond … ‘This laughter thing that you do is great but you need a bigger focus, it’s just one tool in your toolbox and you’re not going to make a serious business out of it surely?’
But here’s the thing…
… the reason I set out to train in laughter yoga wasn’t because I wanted to make a serious business out of it… I was intrigued, interested in finding out more about the concept of people laughing for no reason and in no time at all found myself exploring how I could bring this to community life, to bring a bit more laughter into the lives of local people. It being a serious business had never been on the cards for me. I was happy going with the flow, enjoying what I was able to bring quite naturally to folk and buzzing from the feedback that people had provided after trying it out. And so that’s what I did.
…one day a contact of mine got in touch. They had a business that wanted to try it out as part of their Well-being programme.
Whilst I’d heard of people running laughter sessions in the workplace in my training it didn’t originally cross my mind that this would be something I’d do. I wasn’t sure how this would really work. Would employers really be interested? Really see the benefit? How would the conservative British business world cope with the potential odd-ness of laughter (without a reason) as a means of managing employee health & well-being? Would employees really engage in this as a tool? I guess I had the usual hesitations that as a manager or employee you may be having yourself about whether this would work in business.
But thankfully for me those thoughts didn’t have a chance to linger for long as this business was deadly serious about trying it and so without hesitation …
I tried it!
And then of course, whilst quickly putting my ‘results’ hat on …
I measured it!
In one of my very first corporate laughter sessions the results were pretty eye-opening. After just one session I was able to report to the employer increases in employee energy level, mood, optimism, happiness, level of connection in the group and ability to laugh; a more steady free-flowing breathing pattern and decreases in stress level and bodily aches & pains.
And not only was I able to show the scores on the doors, straight form the horses mouth ie. from the participating employees. I was also able to share their qualitative feedback – their views on the value this provided to them.
So why would you as a person in business be interested in all that?
We all know that happy workplaces are more productive ones. This is nothing new. But it surprises me to see and hear of businesses that seem to have either forgotten this or not come across this idea before. Businesses are seeing employees struggling with the demands placed upon them in work and in life. Employees who aren’t able to cope mentally and physically. Not because of their capability but because of their capacity. Technology is advancing in a much speedier way than the human mind can cope – the world is moving fast and we’re all struggling on a daily basis to keep up with the demands that are placed on our professional and personal capacity. And as a result employers are seeing huge increases in the levels of stress-related absence in the workplace. You only have to look at the recent CIPD research * on absence to give you an indication that the problem is not going away, if anything it seems to be getting worse.
And can laughter really make a difference?
It’s a fairly simple idea that the opposite emotion of stress is often seen as joy and the only way to counter the effects of stress would be to increase the levels of joy. Balance out the cortisol with a little endorphin. That balancing effect is exactly what, as a group, we do in laughter sessions. We use laughter exercises with the breath to increase oxygen intake into the body and to stimulate the flow of endorphins, which naturally balances out the levels of cortisol built up in the body as a result of stress.
For those of you that are interested in health & well-being in the workplace you might already be starting to see what this could do for your business – not only from an employee well-being point of view, but from a corporate responsibility and indeed a productivity perspective. For me introducing laughter is a no-brainer. What is it for you?
I’d love to hear what you think…
So feel free to share your comments about laughter in business in the comments below… If they are weird and wacky or serious and sombre, it all counts! I’d love for you to share your experiences, your fears and your hopes and I’ll happily share mine with you too.
So what’s next?
If you’re brave enough to tap into your business’ quirky side, put your stiff upper lip at the door and explore what a little laughter could do for your business then please give me a call. I’d be happy to talk to you about what I can offer.
If your business isn’t quite brave enough, but as a leader/manager/employee you want to give it a try for yourself then drop me a line to find out about the times and dates of my community post-work laughter sessions where you can see and feel the benefits directly for yourself.
“There is little success where there is little laughter”
– Andrew Carnegie
CIPD research can be found here https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/absence-management_2016_tcm18-16360.pdf