Laughing at the workplace
The trial is nearly a year on the go. Every morning since 15 January 2018 we have exercised laughing therapy to start the day in the office. At 8.30 AM sharp one of the appointed desk leaders start to laugh. He or she has no reason, is not particularly funny or a chosen comic. No jokes are told. Just start laughing.
In the beginning, the produced sound of laughing was not of high quality. To be honest, it was horrible. Like old leather was tearing apart. We all did look at each other with the expression on our face “what do we have to do here”. As a therapist, I took part in the sessions for the first few months.
After five long minutes of trying, most people gave up. The Monday morning blues did clearly show its power. Until one suddenly started spontaneously crying out in laughter. He could not stop and felt very awkward afterward but it had an effect on all the others. Everyone first smiled and with my encouragement they felt like laughing. The first session did open the trial.
More or less forced the sessions carried out in the first few weeks did draw some opposition. Some people refused to participate while others “accidentally” came too late. All looked like a failure after five weeks of trying. In week eight we reached a turning point after an open discussion with most of the employee.
People did not join in because of fear of losing face, feeling awkward, fear of being filmed and dropped on social media, their personal sound when laughing, personal blockades in expression and few had cultural restrictions. All of these were interesting NON existing limitations brought up by participants for the reason to avoid expression in public.
Laughing is a personal expression. It is considered private. Something you share with intimate persons. People who participate are sessions like laughing were not considered mentally healthy by most. It took me a lot of talking, convincing and personal explanation to get on with a small but willing group. The boss of the company gave me three more months.
We got a special room to start the day. Every morning I opened the door and had music on. Happy, stimulating music. Drinks were ready and displayed on tables. Chairs in a circle and in the middle a small table with an object. Every day another. When entering the room I did shake their hand and some did want a hug. This sometimes did even surprise me. But it all did help to open people up and break the day. Our laughing sessions became very successful and every participant showed higher performance in the working place. The boss did keep measuring the results.
After three months the boss had enough proof of the effects and made a permanent decision. The laughing sessions had to be taken by all people in the company for at least six months. People who did not want to participate were asked to sign their resignation and leave. This drastic measure came as a shock for many of the employee. There was one person who left the company. He suffered from serious depression and was not productive. I am still wondering if this measure is honest to all employee but I got my chance to prove results.
With everybody forcefully participating on a daily basis it became accustomed for every department to start with a laughing session and after eight months of the start the general mood on the working floor is higher, productivity is increased, there are hardly any quarrels or disagreements, more creativity and most of all, the customer service and sales did improve dramatically. The companies profits did skyrocket.
After all, it was a huge success but I signed a non-disclosure contract for security and competition reasons. That was my mistake, I did learn a lot but the chance I find another boss like that willing to invest in the uncertain project is a real hard job. The company is still successful and has a high number of customer satisfaction and an even higher mark for employee friendliness.
When I look back, I smile. Laughing is successful.