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Add A Little Laughter In The Workplace To See Big Results

A group of coworkers gather together in a conference room. Four are performing in front of the group, acting out a party scene; one pretends to be a dog at the vet, another Mark Twain, and a third is a birthday clown while a fourth guesses who they are. The rest of the group watches and laughs as these four explore what happens when the host spills dip on Mark Twain’s suit, or what a clown’s work life crisis might look like.

Believe it or not, this is what effective team building looks like.
Recent studies show that employees who believe that their workplaces are innovative and fun not only work harder but maintain greater loyalty towards their organizations for longer periods of time. Environments friendly to laughter are creating hotbeds of success. Some companies are enjoying a significant increase in productivity from a single instance of levity, according to Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher, authors of The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up.

Studies show that there is a direct correlation between being physically relaxed and motor skill acuity, task completion, team interaction, idea generation, creativity and the list goes on and on. You don’t have to look much further than a high school basketball coach who reminds his players to ‘have fun out there, guys!’ If they’re tense and nervous, they simply won’t be at their best. It’s usually the team who ‘has nothing to lose’ that ends up shooting the lights out from all over the floor, while the top-ranked Bulldogs, for example, feel the pressure of all the expectations and suddenly forget how to make a simple layup or pass the ball out of bounds,” shares Christopher in a recent interview.

ShawnAchor, one of the reigning thought leaders of happiness, believes, “If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligently. We need to be able to reverse this formula so we can start to see what our brains are actually capable of.”

He understands that dopamine, which floods into our system when we’re positive, turns on the learning centers in the brain and empowers us to adapt to the world in a new way.

How do we turn on the dopamine valve? Enter Zach Atherton, founder of the highly successful Laugh and Learn Workshop. Every Saturday night, he does something most of us are terrified of attempting, yet can’t stop laughing at: improvisational comedy.
Zach Atherton, Founder of Laugh and Learn Workshop, suggests improv comedy is a great way to boost employee performance.
Atherton’s improv comedy troupe, Improv Broadway, is made up of 20+ actors who are comedically and musically inclined, performing spontaneous skits and songs based on audience suggestions. While this sounds like just a fun night out, you can actually use improv training to increase your company’s performance.

Here’s why:
Collaborative improvisation speeds up the team building process.
“Take any four improvisers, worth their salt, from around the world and lock them in a room. Within two hours, that group of people will be not only fast friends but also able to perform on a level that would take non-improvisers months to achieve. Great improvisers have mastered the ability to pull back the curtain of their personalities and let others peek into their soul,” Atherton says. Trust must be established and camaraderie instilled for groups to work cohesively. Organizations that learn how to transform their employees from coworkers to friends will see a drastic increase in happiness, loyalty and productivity.

Overthinking gets in the way of creative genius.
To be an incredible improviser, you have to remove the inhibitors that filter raw ideas in your mind. “Our brains are the greatest computers in the universe, processing at least 11 trillion bits per second, and we install filters throughout our lives that slow them down. The best improvisers have learned to uninstall these filters and let their mind function at the speed it was designed for and allow laughter to catalyze the process,” says Atherton. To uninstall these filters you have to train yourself to go with your gut instinct. Companies that invite fresh ideas and create a non-judgmental atmosphere will produce high levels of innovation.

Organizations that play together stay together.
With over half of the national workforce saying they stay with their organizations because of their coworkers, it’s no wonder companies are spending millions of dollars on employee engagement. Atherton says, “Too few people enjoy their jobs, and too many begrudgingly clock in day in and day out. This is the antithesis of creativity and productivity. If coworkers could learn to have fun with each other the way improvisers have fun with each other, you would see more professionals loving what they do and being better at it.”

This bond takes time, effort and sincerity. Investing in “play time” for your employees will not only yield a happier workplace, but a more productive one.

Aristotle wisely said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” It is important to note that improvisational training is not a silver bullet to fix all productivity problems, but rather a system that must be consistently applied to create long-term change.

“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves,” says Earl Nightingale.

Improvisational training in your workplace is an innovative method to boost employee confidence.

As we return to the conference room from before, we see that four more coworkers are performing, along with their manager. They’re reenacting a day in the office, but in the style of a Shakespeare play. And every time they laugh at a bad pun, they get stronger. So go on. Laugh it up. It can’t hurt and might help.


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