Michael’s Bonus Resources
Michael Kerr, The Workplace Energizer!
Hall of Fame Certified Speaking Professional, Trainer, Author
Creator of the Culture Leadership Academy online course
Michael works with leaders and organizations who want to turbocharge their workplace culture to drive outrageous results!
Here is a link to the Meetings article Michael mentioned: https://mikekerr.com/free-articles/humour-in-the-workplace-articles/weve-got-to-start-meeting-like-this/
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Hi, welcome to the working well podcast. My guest today is Michael Kerr. And just in case you’re wondering curve rhymes with her. So Michael Kerr is a hall of fame speaker who in ordinary times travels the world researching, writing, and speaking about inspiring workplaces, that rock and businesses that leverage their humor resources to drive outrageous results.
Michael’s idea, ideas on building and inspiring workplaces have been featured in hundreds of publications. Worldwide well has inspiring workplaces. Blog has been listed as one of the top 30 workplace blogs in the world. World. Michael is also the author of eight. Just eight. Yeah. Eight books, including the humor free or the humor advantage why some businesses are laughing all the way to the bank and the jerk free workplace.
And by the way, I love that name. I even actually have a copy of the humor advantage right here, but I have yet to get my copy of the jerk free work. So welcome to the working well podcast, Michael.
Hey, thank you, Tim. It’s awesome to be here. And, and I love it. A little slip there. I thought you were going to say the humor free workplace, which most workplaces are humor free.
That’s right. I could do another book after the jerk free. I can go back and revisit that topic, the humor freeze soul workplace. So I, as a speaker and researchers. Traveling the world or usually travels the world. Um, obviously this past year has been a bit interesting for you. Uh, tell me a bit about what it’s, uh, what it’s been like, not being able to travel as much.
Yeah. It’s, it’s bizarre. And I, I just realized I’m coming up to probably my year anniversary of not being on a plane. Right. It’s not like the kitchen is a far trip for me now from the bedroom down to my office. This is the extent of my travel. So it’s crazy as a really busy speaker before this, where I was going to the airport sometimes a couple of times a week, right.
Traveling all over the world sometimes it’s, it was a bit of an adjustment, but I think like, uh, like so many folks I’ve, I’ve adapted, I’ve, I’m appreciating the small things, which is, I think. What we have to do, right. It’s been a great reminder of the importance of just little things like getting out every day for a walk and how good that is for our health and wellness and, and keeping our Netflix account up to date, appreciating those small things, chocolate wine, the importance of good relationships, right.
And, and the importance of holding onto our sense of humor. Cause I think we need it now more than ever. I agree completely. Of this last year, what’s been the most positive thing that’s come out of it.
Boy the most, the most positive I, well there’s yeah, there’s a few things. I mean, again, I would just say on that, that personal well, personal business friend kind of component everything’s combined, right.
Combined. It’s been the slowing down. It’s been, um, I have a friend who. Referred to this early on as kind of a massive extended snow day. And I love looking at it that way. And that’s what it’s kind of been, and I’m trying to still maintain that mindset. So it’s, it’s been nice to actually slow down to, to, again, just appreciate a slower pace of life.
It’s given me an opportunity to actually work in my business because usually when I’m speaking full on and I’m traveling, it’s hard to do a lot of the stuff we sometimes need to do as entrepreneurs working in the business because we’re so busy or working on the business. Uh, so, so that’s been great to kind of just take a step back and think about what I want to do now with, with my business in the coming years and, and reimagine it in different ways and from a consulting, you know, you still probably speaking online now doing, doing this. Uh, but you also work with businesses to integrate humor into the workplace, particularly, and I know from, from my business wellness is this wide ranging topic and humor is a very important aspect of it. What, what types of things have you worked with companies on this past year?
Because there’s been some tough times for a lot of companies. Yeah, for sure. For sure. Yes. Yes. Yeah. You, you do need humor more than ever. And of course, all my presentations now are virtual. Like, like almost everybody. So just adapting to that is different, but that too has provided an opportunity for a lot of what I talk about, because I’ve been talking a lot about how to maintain.
A lot of humor, how to inspire and motivate and engage employees who are working remotely or working virtually when you don’t have that team dynamic anymore, where you’re not seeing people face to face. What are some opportunities to add humor when you’re, you’re connecting in your meetings virtually.
So that’s been a big part of what I’ve been talking about. Resiliency of course, right. With all the stress of the last year with the uncertainty with the last year, that creates a ton of stress. So talking about using our sense of humor and other mindset. Things to help people maintain a more resilient attitude to help build a culture of resiliency as well.
So that’s obviously been a, been a very hot topic as well. And there’s all sorts of issues that come out of this, right? This whole new world we’re in, uh, that, that. Have come up a lot in presentations and in workshops, things around trust. For example, too, we’ve got employees all scattered to the winds, working in home for the first time with a lot of companies and trust becomes an issue, right.
We have to learn to trust our employees, trust our colleagues, like never before. So communication. Becomes a huge issue too. Right. So all of those topics kind of blend together. And so it’s, uh, it’s been an interesting, interesting year for sure. I would hope a year into it. Uh, we’ve learned to, most companies have realized that business can get done and work can get done remotely.
And that, that I know at first couple months, that trust was a big thing, is. Companies were like, well, what if people are slacking? You know, I think the stats show that when people are working more now than ever. Oh, exactly, exactly. And you know, one of my, one of my messages to a lot of senior executives who are worried about that, right.
Cause I literally just talking to managers who, who would suggest that. Well, they don’t know what their employees are doing every second of the day. And my response to that would be well, did you know what they were doing every second of the day before? Because I bet you, you didn’t. And if you’ve did that, probably wasn’t the healthiest work impairment for your port employees who probably.
Separating from your micromanagement. You know, I didn’t put it that bluntly, but we have to be careful we’re not micromanaging. And one of the messages I sent you all the time is there’s a huge difference between checking in with our employees, which is absolutely critical. When we talk about health and wellness and positive workplace culture.
Versus checking up on our employees. One of those things build stress and one of those things destroys trust. So I would challenge everyone out there to think about that. Are you, are you genuinely checking in with one another on your team or are you checking the queue at the office at two o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon?
Well, and on the, on the wellness side, we see that all the time and in our business, we run corporate fitness centers and workplace wellness programs. And. There is still this mindset out there that if someone goes out for a walk in the middle of the day, well, they’re not getting work done. I’m like, well, but that’s like every stat out there, it shows that makes them more productive yet.
There’s still this mentality of, well, they’re not sitting at their desks, so they must not be productive. Yeah, exactly. And even just, just taking breaks. Right. And as I’m sure, you know, there’s so much research that talks about the rejuvenating benefits of breaks and how we need to take probably more breaks than most of us are taking, because they’re good for us.
And in the longterm, we’ll be more productive. And we also have to appreciate that with everybody working at home, everyone’s at a different situation. Right. And we don’t know what’s going on with, with our employees. Some of them have. I have small kids that are homeschooling all of a sudden for the first time, or they’re taking care of elderly parents or whatever is going on.
And so there are going to be different schedules that are going to work better for different people. And we’ve got to be more flexible, like never before we’ve got to appreciate people are in different situations. So let’s. Cut them some Slack let’s trust them and let’s be creative and allow people to create schedules that are going to allow them to be their best, to show up as their best and get more done than, than maybe they even did before.
Yeah,absolutely. So I asked, I asked this question to all our guests and what, what is your definition of wellness in the workplace?
Yeah. That’s uh, that’s, that’s, that’s a great question. My, my daddy there’s so much to me that comes wrapped in that wellness term. Right. There’s so much, uh, you know, I talk a lot about, about not just the physical benefits of humor, for example, but of course the mental health benefits and the benefits in terms of our, our just overall happiness.
And, and to satisfaction and enjoyment in our jobs. And I think all of that ties together. I talk about humor in terms of it being a chicken and egg relationship with, with wellness and positive workplace cultures. In other words, humor helps drive healthier, more positive, more inspiring workplaces, but it also, maybe this is even more important.
They, it reflects a healthy, positive workplace where it’s easy to maintain a good sense of humor, where it’s easy to bring your sense of humor along for the ride and a good attitude because you’re working in this environment of trust of appreciation of respect, where people get along with one another.
And all of that ties together too. I think to create an overall sense of wellness in our lives. Uh, there’s so many tentacles to this topic of wellness. I talk even about the idea of just finding purpose in your work, right. And we know how powerful that is in terms of people’s feeling more engaged in their jobs, but also feeling just happier.
And again, Tying into a sense of wellness that it does feed into that overall feeling of, of, of wellness. Yeah,
it is so multifaceted and you know, some people, some companies focus on one aspect more than others, but being able to step back and see it from that bigger picture. And humor is a perfect example of that is, you know, being in the wellness industry.
I understand how humor. Fits into that and helps people with, from a happiness and even hormone profile like this, the, the physiology behind it. There’s amazing science to support that. What are some of the biggest barriers you see to integrating humor into the workplace?
I think just, just a lack of awareness.
Yes. Of how to do it, but also fear more than anything. People get scared that if you put the Huber welcome mat out, there’s going to be total anarchy. I think that there’s going to be inappropriate jokes. There’s going to be, we’ll be cushions at every board meeting and people wearing clown noses and skateboarding down the hallways.
And it’s just going to be anarchy and chaos. Chaos. And of course, nothing could be further from the truth. As, as I stress to people having a sense of humor, creating a culture of humor. Isn’t about being the office clown. It’s certainly not about telling jokes, so you don’t have to run out and take a standup comedian class at anytime soon.
It’s not even about being. Funny all the time. It’s way broader than that. More powerful than that. It’s about having a sense of balance, a sense of proportion and perspective about our challenges at work, the issues that can stress us out. So it doesn’t make our problems or challenges go away, of course, but it helps us see them in a healthier, more realistic light.
It’s about laughing at those things that we have no control over, which is quite a bit at work. And it’s especially about learning to laugh at ourselves. More, as I tell my audiences all the time, is it not a truism that the more seriously a person takes themselves, ironically, the less seriously, we tend to take that person, which is ironic.
Right. But that’s what happens. People take themselves seriously, or the hopes that everyone takes them seriously when the reality becomes, no, we’re not taking you seriously because you’re taking yourself so seriously. So it’s about laughing at ourselves in order. To do our jobs even more professionally.
So it’s not about taking our customer service or a jobs lightly. It’s about taking ourselves and the things we can’t control lightly in order to in fact be even more professional. So I think it’s just back to your question, it’s getting over that, that fear that it’s somehow going to be inappropriate or affect productivity or.
Um, affect behaviors and outlandish ways. And that’s just not the case. We know from so much research that workplace cultures, that infuse, and for sure there’s different types of humor. So we want to talk about a positive, healthy kind of humor here. Yeah, workplaces that infuse their culture with positive, healthy senses of humor tend to have lower absenteeism rates, lower employee turnover rates, higher productivity.
Now lower productivity. People communicate better with one another. There’s more collaboration. There’s more trust. There’s more creativity and innovation. It can help your customer service stand out. There’s all these benefits of injecting your workplace with humor. And again, back to the wellness theme, people are healthier.
They’re less stressed out. It has a huge impact on people’s stress level. So I think, I think it’s just a matter, I think of awareness and education and getting people to understand, no, you don’t have to be frightened by this. This can be a huge benefit to you and to your team and to all of your employees.
Well, and you brought up a great point earlier that ties to the humor aspect is that humor and trust go hand in hand, uh, studies show that people who are, um, think, people think have a good sense of humor. They trust them more. And I, one of the videos you had that, uh, It was 91% of executives believe that a sense of humor is important for career advancement.
98% of CEOs said they’d prefer to hire someone with a sense of humor rather than someone who is more serious.
Yeah. Those are overwhelming stats. Yeah, exactly. It’s not rockets. Yeah. That’s right. People like people who have a good sense of humor, we want to work with people who have a good sense of humor and yes, there’s that great correlation between trust and humor, where it’s been shown that when people share a healthy, positive sense of humor, we trust them more.
And I think there’s a simple explanation for that. We’re never more real. We’re never more authentic. Then we, when we share our sense of humor, especially if it’s, it’s pointing at ourselves, right. We laugh at ourselves, we become so human, it keeps us humble. And then we trust those people more. And here’s a message.
I think too, that’s really, really important for folks to hear because everyone worries about that proverbial humor line. What happens when somebody crosses the line? There’s a study in the international group of humor studies of which I am a member. Where they studied the role of the proverbial office joker in these it companies, right?
The proverbial in this case, the office clown. Right. And what they found time and time again, were all these incredible benefits of having a person play that role in terms of. Keeping morale up and keeping people energized during pouring boring times and reducing stress during stressful times and retelling company stories over and over.
So it kept the history and the traditions alive. The corporate gesture did and, and speaking uncomfortable truths. To the executives. So, so I use the term corporate gesture because that’s exactly what they were like right here. What was so interesting to me though, when we talk about the humor line, here’s what was so fascinating was when the heads of those companies were asked about that, you know, what does the, does the office joker ever cross that line?
And they all said, yeah, of course they do every now and then, but you know what? The benefit that that person plays. The benefit of having that role in our team. So outweighs the very odd misstep. And when they do a misstep, when they cross that line, they usually know they’ve crossed the line and, you know, somebody just has a conversation with them and says, you know, you crossed the line, right?
Yeah. You know, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll be a little more careful next time. But the danger is, and this is what I always want to stress. The danger is that we become so focused on that line, that proverbial line that we don’t do anything. I think we don’t do anything. So we, we create this somber work environment and there’s a difference between being serious and being somber, right?
So we create this oppressive, depressing, somber work environment that doesn’t do anyone any good because we’ve become so. Frightened of that okays original misstep. It’s just, it’s crazy. That’s the whole
thing about mistakes, right? Yeah. You make a mistake, but how you handle the mistake is more important than what the mistake was.
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And so how have you, you know, companies that you’ve worked with, how have you seen the cultures transform pre COVID to post COVID, um, dealing in an online world? Have you noticed a shift in. You know, are there more or less of them corporate gestures out there are companies dealing with it in a different way?
I think it’s interesting. There was a study early on. This was maybe four months, five months into the pandemic. And yeah, I would, I was pleasantly surprised that there was the stats showed something like 38% of workplace cultures where employees said things actually got better in their workplace culture, things improved.
And I think that’s because this whole situation. Um, forced a lot of companies to do things that they probably should have been doing all along. Right. And it forced them to be extra intentional about trusting their employees, extra intentional about being more open and honest with their communication and investing in more communication.
So there were all sorts of positive shifts that happened. So some companies are, and I’ve experienced this with some of my clients where they’ve said, yeah, you know what? In some ways, things have never been stronger in our culture. I think it’s taken this. Situation to help us appreciate things better and to help us just connect with one another better at a fundamentally human level.
And so let’s hope that that doesn’t go away after the pandemic. One of the things I’m telling my clients time and time again, is, is think about the lessons you’re learning through all this and what you need to change forever more. Don’t think of some of these changes just in the short term, like, Oh, we have to, we have to learn this new stuff or do stuff differently for.
Yeah, another six months, nine months, however long it is. And then, and then it’s going to all be for not, well now think about this in terms of a long-term, what are some things that you should be doing anyways, regardless of the pandemic? So there has been a lot of positive, good stuff out there. And I, and I think, you know, the, the.
The office Joker’s getting back to them. They’re, they’re playing just as, as much, if not even as strong a role as ever in the virtual world, they’re just doing it in a different format. They’re still bringing the fun though. Bringing that energy to the video meetings that are doing it in different ways.
They’re doing it. Maybe via email. There you go. There. They’re putting on the rabbit ears. They’re there. Their lawyer’s pretending to be cats epidemically based on the story best. I haven’t seen that video yet. I’ve heard it’s quite good. Let’s do funny. I think, I think that now is a legal requirement to start all our video meetings by declaring.
I am not a cat. Well,the funny story about that too. I, my son, uh, we on his, uh, he can’t do like the video effects on his laptop cause it’s older. So he keep his friends, keep doing it when they’re doing their dance and gymnastics zoom calls. So he was like, daddy, can I borrow your laptop? And so. I like to my laptop.
And he put like all these blue mustaches and eyebrows things and, and he didn’t, it stays on the meeting settings. And so I started up a meeting the other day and I’m talking away and not looking at my own thing. And people are like, what, what are you doing? And I look at my screen and I’ve got this blue Chevron mustache with like a goatee and big eyebrows.
And. It just, it was a funny moment, but it was, those are the things that happen now. Yeah.
And it’s awesome. And I think that that humanizes us, right. I mean, we’ve all talked about those stories where funny things happen in the background. We’re in a very serious, and I’ve been on them really serious meetings.
And then somebody’s puppy. Shows up at the background. And of course what happens all of a sudden everyone, all these serial spaces, all of a sudden, everyone breaks out into a big smile, like, Oh, I’ll bring the puppy over. What’s the puppy’s name and zippers and go against the puppy and everyone, and they take this little puppy break in the middle of a meeting.
Right. That’s awesome. It just helps humanize us again. Right. And build those, those personal connections. Yeah. And
that’s yeah. Going back again to this past year has taught us a lot of lessons in business and. That will transform work as we know it in, in the future. And I think there are so many positives that can come out of it.
And even when we go back to the office, even if it’s part time there, hopefully a lot of these things start to stay in place.
Yeah, absolutely. You don’t just, just starting again. And I, I touched on it, but just starting again with that whole idea of just taking care of one another and putting people first creating a more heart-centered it sounds kinda corny or cliche, but a heart centered human centered.
Organization just before the pandemic, I read this really disturbing book called dying for a paycheck. And the punchline is kind of right in the title. It talks about cultures, killing people that there are so many toxic, stressful, dysfunctional workplaces out there. And this book was making the case that that is one of the biggest contributors to.
The pressure on our healthcare system in countries like Canada and the United States that is causing people to have heart attacks and strokes and all these diseases. And there’s a direct line. There’s a direct correlation from how people are being treated in their jobs. The overwork. To a lack of, uh, work-life balance to, to toxic workplace cultures and workplaces, just not focusing on health and wellness the way they should be.
So let’s use this as a wake up call and emphasize the importance of health and wellness, like never before. Yeah.
And that’s exactly it. I feel, um, you know, fight the same battle in, in my side of the business, as well as having companies realize that. Adding humor, adding wellness to the workplace is not this cost that needs to be managed.
It’s a, it’s an investment. And you, one of your videos you made the point is more funny, equals more money, and it’s, I love it. And it’s the same thing. When you bring that up culture into the workplace, it benefits everyone. It benefits health, wellbeing, Venus and productivity, profitability.
Yeah. And there’s just, people ask me, are there any numbers to show to back this up?
Where do you want to begin? This is like a day’s worth of numbers I could talk about. Right. There’s so much research that shows it. And so many of my clients who have crunched the numbers who show yeah. Th this money we’re spending saying health and wellness are investing in, in recognizing our employees or even parks our employees.
Yeah, it’s showing up as a lot of costs on our expense side of the equation, but. We’ve crunched the numbers. Here’s how much it’s saving us in cost and or here’s how much more revenue it is generated for us. So there’s so many reasons to do it, but let’s again, not forget just that fundamental reason to do it.
Hopefully it’s the right thing to do. And isn’t that nice that those things just happen too. To fit so nicely together. Yes. It’s the nice thing to do or the right thing to do, but it will also make you more money. And save you some costs as well in the long run. So why, to me, it’s like a no brainer decision and, and you
know, it firsthand too.
I’ve heard you talk about the, your, you voted yourself off the, off the Island and your company, and that’s how you started your own business. That’s right. And yeah, there are, I can’t think of how many clients that I’ve worked with over the years where. They’re successful. They’re, you know, climbing a ladder.
They’re making good money, but they’re miserable. Yeah. They, they just, they hate going to work every day and they, they go in and they put in their time. And when we look at the stats and ROI, Presenteeism is this like the iceberg under the water, right? People are there. They’re not sick. They’re not on like disability.
They’re, they’re showing up at the office every day, but they’re putting out 10% or 20% or 50%. And yeah. As a company that’s not good. No, it’s huge. And I’m glad you brought that up. We need to talk about presenteeism way more than we do, and everybody focuses on absenteeism, but presenteeism is huge. And again, there’s research that shows that numbers are enormous.
When you have people coming in and they’re not engaged in their jobs, their hearts aren’t there. They’re, they’re counting. I have met people in their thirties. And how sad is this that are tracking the days almost before they can get their pinch, the big P until they retire, what a way to go through life.
You know, it’s crazy. And we do have to remember work has a huge impact on our life. Like you said, we could. You know, is, is that really being successful at work? If you’re miserable, you might’ve climbed up the corporate ladder and you’ve got this, this great position and the beautiful office, but if you’re miserable, how is that a definition of success or how does that tie into your definition of success?
Our work affects our mental and physical health. Our family lives, our marriages. It affects who we socialize with our personal development or personal growth. It’s a wee bit of a time sucker. It’s the single biggest use of our waking hours in this short journey called life. So I think we owe it to. Each other, we owe it to our employees.
We all are to our teammates, to our bosses, to our customers, to our families, to create as positive, as healthy a workplace as possible because this sucker matters. Yeah. Well, I, I grew up in the team sports world and yeah, if there are people on the team that aren’t pulling their weight or underperforming, the team comes together to help that personnel.
Whereas in a lot of companies, it’s just like, Oh, this is Bob. He sits in the cubicle in the corner and does nothing like, we’ll just pretend he’s not there. And, uh, don’t, don’t make eye contact. He’s like a grizzly bear just, yeah.
And, and so there, there, there does become some of that or that person might be miserable and then you end up getting poor reviews and getting like, go when.
They might have great things to contribute to the organization, but there were some things that they had to work through and they needed leadership and they needed help and they felt they weren’t being supported. We see that all the time in companies. Yeah, absolutely. I just did a video today about creating a culture of support and just making sure that that people are comfortable and doing it.
But intentional about checking in with one another, there was a Deloitte study that I referenced quite often that showed that the number one way, employees. Gain a sense of belonging on their team in their company is just when somebody checks in with them again, not checking up on them, but checking in with them in a genuine way that makes them feel appreciated them.
And like they belong to this group of people. Right? So it’s so important that we do that and that we intentionally go create a culture of support where people can. Get help where people can put up their hand where they’re, when they’re having a serious mental health issue. That’s so important. Yeah.
And having other people around that start to notice when that might be happening, because I know for a lot of people, it is hard to reach out and they’re scared they’re they don’t want to be, there’s a stigma around it.
And the adding humor and wellness into the workplace raises everyone’s boats. Yeah. Yeah. And, and you bring up an important point there too, right? Because when I talk about the humor stuff, do the fun stuff. One of the things I stress is it is not putting on, you know, a fake smiley face. Turn that frown upside down.
Come on. Yeah. It’s about using it in a genuine, authentic way to create a psychologically safe environment. And during challenging times, like the world is experiencing right now, it’s never been more important to create that kind of culture where you speak up when you’re not having a good day and recognize it’s okay to have bad days.
And I have bad days, I haven’t worked like bad days and off weeks and we need to create that safe space. So people can say, you know what? Today, I I’m having a bad day. I’m like a 2.1 out of 10 today. It sucks. And we have to speak up and do that and take a leadership role in doing that so that we don’t beat ourselves up.
First of all, for having those bad days, because you know what happens right? People get stressed out about being stressed out. They get anxious about being anxious. So then your bad hair day piles up on top of your bad hair day. And pretty soon you look like you’re from the 1980s, which nobody wants to see.
And then you also have to speak up when you’re not doing great, so that you create that environment for other people to know that it’s okay to speak up.
So how can. How can companies start to do that? How can they start to integrate more humor and wellbeing into their and support into their office culture?
Well, there there’s so many ways that they can do it. I think, I think not just one. There’s not just one. There’s not just one. No, no, we put it off. There’s not wouldn’t that be? Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was just one, here’s what you have to do and then you’re done. You’re done for the rest of it. Uh it’s it’s a big question, right?
But it starts by being intentional. But for me, everything goes back to, you’ve got to be intentional, great healthy cultures. Don’t just happen. You can’t fake it. You can’t go by your culture at Ikea, because as I always say, nobody will know how to put it together. So you just gotta be intentional about doing this stuff and treated as a priority, which means you’ve got to model it out loud.
You’ve got to live it. You’ve got to make sure. That what’s important for you to see, especially being in a senior leadership role that you’re modeling this in an outrageously loud way, but I feel a few things that you can to kind of jumpstart some of this stuff that you can try. One is focus on your meetings.
For me, meetings are critical touchpoint in companies and meetings should help you create the kind of culture that you want, but also they should reflect the kind of culture you want. So if you say, Hey, we value a fun humor, field creative, innovative, healthy culture. Then your meetings better reflect that if you want a healthy workplace culture, then maybe don’t serve junk food.
As much as we all enjoy it from time to time during your meetings. If you want to have a fun culture, be known as a fun culture, then make sure your meetings are fun and that they aren’t sucking the life out of everybody. And they aren’t these soul sucking horrific experiences in the board room where everyone’s nodding off.
From boredom. So use your meetings as a touch point to check in with people to talk about these issues. Yes, but also as a microcosm of your culture. So if you want to ramp up the fun in your, in your culture, for example, start with your meetings. Because it sends a really powerful message. Open up your meetings with a fun icebreaker.
I’ve got, I’ve got a handout that I’d be happy to share with anyone that has over 60 find ways of injecting humor into your meeting and just a fun way. So look for those opportunities, create rituals and traditions around fun, around humor, around health and wellness. I’m a huge fan of rituals and traditions.
Every great workplace culture I’ve interviewed around the world talks about the importance of. Rituals and traditions in their workplace to help them build their culture, to help them build a strong culture, rituals and traditions, give everybody something to look forward to something to reminisce about, and they help people create habits in the workplace.
So if you want to. Up your wellness game, your, your health game or your humor came at work, create some rituals around it. Maybe it’s a Monday morning team. I know that’s a little more challenging in this day and age with the virtual world, but we’ll be back in person one day and you can do some of these things virtually.
So maybe it’s a Monday morning kickoff ritual. Maybe it’s a Friday afternoon team huddle where you just review the top three wins of the week. Maybe it’s to inject a little bit of fun. It’s celebrating the wacky theme days or making up your own goofy theme day. I have a couple of clients that I love this because it’s so simple, and this is how simple it can be to make, uh, to at least start in your culture.
This, this one climb up a client of mine. They do third person Thursdays. Where everybody refers to themselves, but in the third person, right. It’s dirt simple. Does it cost you a dime? Even the introverts can get on board for this one and it’s awesome. Right? How can you not walk around with a smile on your face all day where I would be going, Hey, yeah, Mike’s looking forward to the meeting this afternoon.
Oh, my cousin. I do. I kick. It’s so stupid, but it’s so simple to just shift the energy, to, to change things up and again, send a message about the kind of culture that you want. That’s fantastic. I love that the third person Thursdays. And then if we tried that one thing I did notice in a, in your, in your book, the humor advantage you, you talk about a fun squad, fun squad head.
I love that idea. Like w I’ve always talked about wellness ambassadors and having like the different people that would go around and create that and from a wellness side, but I never thought about the fun squad. So, yeah. Do you have some examples of how that’s worked out in different companies?
Yeah, there’s a few, there’s a few clients and, and again, it’s, it’s, you have to be careful with this.
This is another way that you can quickly ramp up the level of fun in your culture. You just want to be careful that you’re not outsourcing them, right? You’re not, they don’t take on all the responsibility for fun and happiness in your workplace or your culture, because of course we know it doesn’t work that way.
Everybody’s got to get on board with this idea. Like everybody has to be the fun police like that. Exactly. She got in trouble for not having fun. Everybody has to think about their role in contributing to a positive workplace culture, their role in contributing to a healthier workplace culture. However, it can be a very effective tool and I’ve, I’ve seen it done.
In a number of different ways. The most effective way I’ve seen it done is, is when they take it seriously. So they actually set aside a budget, not necessarily a big budget, but a small budget for a committee, or even just an ambassador to lead the charge. So, so facilitated at least, right? When feels the workplace with more funded to try some creative things, some innovative things, some new social things, but.
They take it seriously. So people have to apply for the position. They do it on top of their normal work, but they want people who are, are really going to be committed. Right. So you have to still apply for it just like you would with any other job. And I think this is one of the keys to success. They do it for a short term.
So it gives lots of people, a chance to cycle through a sort of fun ambassador funding committee, fun squad role, whatever you want to call it. And it prevents people from getting burned out because we know what happens in a lot of organizations. And I’ve worked in companies where this has been the case where it’s the same handful of people that do all the fun activities who take care of anyone’s birthday party.
When it comes out, organizes every social activity and they get burnt out. They get tired of doing it because it always falls on the scene, half a dozen shoulder shoulders. So rotating it around. Make sure people get a different crack at it, but also the people don’t get burned up. Yeah. And people,
if it’s the same group of people, they probably are the ones that are only participating and you miss out on people that aren’t cycling through that.
That process as well. Yeah. And, and it’s a really good way to, because also what happens sometimes one of the things I talk about is making sure you don’t create a situation of funishment, which is creating fun events that feel like it’s punishment, because I’m an introvert and this just, you know, I don’t want to do this.
I’m a, I’m an introvert. This isn’t. Fun for me. So involving different people, like your introverts, for example, on squads, on a fun squad like that, you get very different ideas, very different suggestions, very different energy that might appeal to a broader section of people, or at least a different section of people than you have in the past.
And it’s a way to engage people that normally, maybe aren’t as engaged in that. Yeah. That’s a great point too. It’s a bit different perspectives.
Yeah. Awesome. So what, I guess my next question would be, where do you see based on the last year, where do you see things going in the next year or two?
As far as workplace culture and policies, procedures, a mindset around wellbeing in the workplace. I think it’s just, if, if I had my crystal ball out, I think it’s just going to get better and better. I think it really has been a wake up call for a lot of companies. And I think there’s going to be, there’s going to be just, I think, a big movement to make sure that that.
We don’t go back in our workplaces to how things were, you know, we talk about returning to the new normal, but I’m a big advocate of saying no, let’s not go back to the new normal because the, the old normal was kind of sucking for a lot of people. So let’s aim higher than the previous normal let’s come out of this.
As we touched on earlier with the lessons that we’ve learned, let’s come out of this being extra Uber intentional about the things we have to do to take care of one another extra intentional about focusing on our culture. It’s been, it’s been a big lesson for workplaces too, and we know this from. From previous huge events that have happened in the world, that those workplaces that have stronger, more resilient cultures tend to come through these kinds of situations.
Stronger. Of course they do. They come up financially stronger. They come out psychologically stronger. The employees do. And so it’s been a reminder to that culture really does matter and it matters now even more. And I think there’s going to be a new generation of employees coming up. Uh, there’s going to be a new mindset because of all this that isn’t going to accept the status quo anymore.
That doesn’t want to go back to the old normal, and that wants to do things in a different way. And, and yeah, the, the great opportunity that’s come out of this too, is just the opportunity to be innovative and try new things and be creative. So. I hope that workplace cultures are going to continue with that mindset and continue to challenge themselves to, to be creative and innovative and try new things that are going to work first and foremost for their employees.
If you don’t get your culture, right. You’re not going to succeed because we know culture is your number one, competitive advantage. It drives success. I don’t care what business you’re in. I don’t care what organization you’re in. Culture is the key driver of success. And so coming out of this in the longterm, uh, my hope is that organizations will have learned just how important culture is.
And there’ll be even more intentional when I, I, we can almost look at it in the same, uh, uh, light as the technology, uh, from basically March. 10th to March 25th, the world progressed about a decade in terms of, uh, using technology in the workplace. And so hopefully this past year has moved us forward a decade or so in terms of how we view organizational culture.
And, uh, we don’t just go back to sitting in cubicle, staring at a wall when we get back into the yeah. Yeah. I, I love that. That’s a, that’s a great. A great analogy that, that hopefully it’s, it’s accelerated our, our learning credit. Right.
Awesome. Well,thank you so much for, for coming on. It’s been wonderful. Are there any other things that you like, Oh, I forgot to mention this or ideas that you have for adding humor in the workplace.
Oh, my God. So many ideas. How many hours do we have others? There’s there’s so many ideas. Just, you know, again, what I stress to people is just start, start somewhere, right?
Start slowly if you have to, but start because it really can make a huge difference in your work day. So start with your book, right? They could start with Mike Buck, the humor advantage why some businesses are laughing all the way to think. There’s dozens, if not hundreds of ideas in that book on how to inject more humor into the workplace.
So, you know, and know this too, that I don’t care how serious you think your organization is. Every company. Has opportunities to inject a little bit of humor in them. I mean, I’ve worked with I’ve researched funeral, home directors and the most serious organizations you could imagine out there. And I have examples from all over the world of companies that have figured out ways of injecting some fun, safe humor into their workplace.
So, so just, just start and brace it and make it happen. You know, one of the simplest things you can do is start a humor file. Just start a humor file or book amongst your team, where you collect the accidentally funny stuff that you see in the world. And specifically the accidentally funny stuff, because there’s research that shows that that’s the fastest way to actually grow our sense of humor, because it forces us to look at things in a little bit of a different way.
It forces us, it trains our brain to look for those things that kind of make us go. Whoa, that’s a little bit weird, right? So collect that stuff and then your brain will continue to be on the lookout for it. And if you do it at a company wide level, or at least a team level, the other benefit is it sends the message.
Hey, we want you to have a little bit of fun here. We want you to appreciate your job and, and find the funny out there in the world. So, so let’s start this and everybody’s share. And bring the accidentally funny stuff that you see out there in the world. And I love how you said
fun, safe humor. Cause that that’s, it’s not like you have to go hire a dozen Andrew dice clay to come into your house.
No. No, we want to keep the Huber positive, constructive, supportive, right? We want to laugh with each other, not at each other. And one of the mindsets too. I think that is helpful is don’t necessarily think of it as trying to be funny, but instead think about doing things in a spirit of fun. And I think that’s an important distinction, right?
And it’s a lot easier, I think, but less pressure to do things in a spirit of fun. As opposed to trying to be funny, which is, is stressful for the most brilliant stand-up comedians out there. Right. So just have fun bringing that spirit of fun to everything you do. Yeah.
Enjoying the things you’re doing on a day-to-day basis and joining, interacting with people and smiling when it counts when not when you’re trying to force it.
And, yeah. Wonderful. And so mikekerr.com.
That’s the, uh, yes, that’s the website it’s being totally overhaul. So I’m excited for a few months. It’s going to be totally different, but do drop by the website. And I’d encourage people. If you want a weekly dose of inspiration and a little bit of fun sign up for my weekly newsletter, inspiring workplaces.
And in fact, you’ll get a free ebook called 340 ways to book to work. So there’s a whack of ideas right there. All right. What happened to the rest of the 340? What happened there? It’s not like 365. I know somebody said, why didn’t you do 365 with those extras? Well, well, yeah, I have thousands of ideas, so I, in retrospect, I don’t, I wrote that book many years ago.
I don’t know why I bought, so my smart ass answer is because, you know, humor needs a vacation too. They need a few days off. They, they, they, they need their vacation time. Exactly. Awesome. Well, thank you so much
for coming on the show. And you had mentioned, um, uh, was it 60 ways a handout for, yeah. Um, if you want to send me the link, I’ll make sure it goes in the link when, uh, when we post this.
You been, yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much. Thank you, Tim. Thanks everyone. Remember, remember to remember to live each and every day as though whatever your last, because sooner or later. You’ll be ready. I love that. Thank you for
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Thank you everyone for tuning in. And once again, I’m Tim Borys with fresh wellness group. We’ll see you on the next episode