Leadership and Laughter

A few months ago, I had the privilege of leading one of my client’s management teams through the StratOp strategic planning process. After the 2-day session, I received this email from one of the key leaders. It’s a fascinating insight on the correlation between engaged employees and laughter.  Instead of writing about it, I secured permission to post it here. Enjoy…

A few years ago I got the opportunity to work with a global UK based HR research company.

Their claim to fame is a systematic index of global ‘workplace engagement’ and ‘employee happiness’.  

Following months of West Michigan meetings (with my company at the time) I got the chance to ‘grab a pint’ with the founder of the research firm when (for other reasons) I was in the UK.

In-and-amongst talking Scottish/British politics, I asked him “What is not obvious about measuring employee engagement that you cannot see in the numbers?”

“Oh, that is quite simply-sorted,” he said. “Laughter!”

He went on to say that 1) all of his researchers noticed that employees and leaders laughed more at highly-engaged companies, and that 2) an employee’s likelihood of being retained can be correlated to whether “you consider anyone at the office one of your best friends?” and “have you had a good laugh (belly-laugh) at the office in the last week?”

As I reflected on the last few days of strategic planning, and this thought, I realized how fortunate I am to look around the room and see friendships that have spanned decades. While some of us are new to each other, I really enjoy and deeply respect each of you.

Is the work in front of us daunting? Absolutely. Yet today, I feel more compelled than I have in years because I know that I am alongside a group of friends I admire, who can belly-laugh together.

Thanks for letting me play.