Power Breakfast Preview:
Humor in the Workplace
Friday, September 28, 2012 7:00 AM
Tuesday, Oct. 2
7 a.m. networking and breakfast
7:30 a.m. panel discussion
Des Moines Embassy Club, 34th floor of the Ruan Center
666 Grand Ave.
$20 (includes breakfast). Reservations at businessrecord.com/events
Ben Hildenbrandt, Business Development Director, Belin McCormick P.C.
What do companies that put a premium on good humor have in common? They tend to be successful, according to Fortune 500 criteria.
Researchers say workplace humor can increase employees’ creativity and morale, can cut through office tensions, and help workers adapt to change with less stress. But humor is not as easily implemented as other business tools.
The Business Record’s Oct. 2 Power Breakfast, “A Laughing Matter: Humor in the Workplace,” will discuss how to use and facilitate humor in the workplace. We decided to warm up the panelists’ act and whet your appetite with an opening question.
Southwest Airlines Co. values fun in the workplace, so much so that humor is one of the traits the company looks for when hiring employees. That’s why the internet is filled with quotes, videos and examples of Southwest flight attendants using their good humor.
Like this internet annecdote of the flight attendant, who had a little fun with the safety instructions that passengers all too often tune out:
“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, margarine cups will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child ... pick your favorite.”
“When and how would you hire someone for their sense of humor?”
“We sell fun! An outgoing, ambitious and humorous personality are a must for working at the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau/Des Moines Area Sports Commission. You can train people to connect with specific skills of a job; you can’t train people to have a personality. Because we are a smaller organization, we always look for the “right fit” when hiring new associates. Humor and personality rank at the top. We always look for how potential candidates respond to our questions and comments. Are they smiling,? Do they have quick, witty answers? Do they possess a warm personality? If the answers are YES, we want them on our team (providing we have a job opening, of course). “
– Greg Edwards, President and CEO, Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau
“We typically don’t hire people because they are funny. We hire people who we think will be good personality matches within our company. In a creative business like ours, that means people who are creative, smart and witty. People who can build good personal relationships with clients. People who can effectively use humor to diffuse an issue or sell an idea. And people like being around people who have a sense of humor – so in our business, it can be an asset.”
– Josh Fleming, Interactive Marketing Director, Lessing-Flynn Advertising Co.
“During the interviewing process, a person’s demeanor often displays insight into their personality. Though nervous, a candidate’s non-verbal communication often identifies whether or not they are friendly or have a sense of humor. In the real estate industry, it’s important to take what we do seriously, but ourselves lightly. In an arena of frustration, disappointment and criticism, humor helps one maintain balance. While skeptical, I might hire the class clown, but I would never hire anyone who was overtly unfriendly, or one who acted like they had been weaned on a pickle all of their life. “
– Tim Meline, Director of Brokerage Development, Iowa Realty Co. Inc.
“Humor often denotes creativity. A new employee’s sense of humor also implies risk-taking in the work environment. I believe the ability to make someone smile or laugh is a positive leadership trait. Team building requires positive reinforcement, which includes humor. But the balance in an employee’s sense of humor is knowing when to turn it on and when to shut it off.”
– Terry Rich, CEO, Iowa Lottery
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