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Happiness & Humor | The Secret to Employee Engagement | Newsweaver IC Conference

Emma HanleyEmma Hanley·

We were thrilled to have Stephanie Davies, CEO at Laughology, join us on the day to deliver the keynote. I knew it was going to be something a bit different, but hoped that everyone would enjoy it and find it beneficial. It was all that and more.

Stephanie is passionate about the role that laughter and humor has in engaging employees and how it feeds into people’s natural instincts.

Key takeaways:

  • Humans are motivated by the way that they feel
  • Laughter is one of the most important tools that humans have to connect with other people
  • If you are able to wrap something positive around something that people might initially perceive as a negative, such as change, then people are more likely to listen, engage and connect with it – even if it is a challenge for them
  • Having emotional capital in your organization leads to increased engagement. This needs to start with your managers

Laughology promote the use of the FLIP model when addressing employee engagement:

  • Focus – People instinctively react to messages based on how they feel. They engage their emotional brain automatically which determines how they think, see and behave towards messages
  • Language – This is the number one process of how people understand messages, it should be positive and emotive – and suit the audience it is targeting
  • Imagination – This builds vision and facilitates creativity and should be harnessed by leaders. If it is not harnessed, or messages are communicated with gaps in the information, the imagination can work to fill those gaps – with positive or negative thoughts
  • Pattern breaking – If everyone is doing the same thing then you will receive the same outcome. Organizations need to look at ways that they can break internal patterns

View Stephanie’s slides here:

We also put some of the unanswered questions to Stephanie, here are her responses:

Have you ever worked with organizations where management and employees are very serious? How did you get through to them with those techniques?

Yes, many management/leadership/working teams are serious and can be dubious when they hear the term ‘Laughology’ – however all our models, techniques and approaches are based on psychology and draw on the latest research into positive psychology and engagement. The keynote presented at the Newsweaver event is a good example of a key note we may do to ‘win hearts and minds’ at the start of a longer term comms or transformation program. It helps position ideas, is interactive, fun and helps people understand why happiness, humor and fun are important in workplaces and for company culture.  We have worked on road-shows with the leadership and comms teams on a consultancy level to look at how they deliver their message and how we make the road shows engaging, interactive and fun while delivering a serious message.
When we deliver consultancy or longer term programs or learning events, yes our message is always that happiness should be at the heart of your organization – that’s our philosophy and with that we use tried and tested practices that really do see increases in engagement. These may be a variety of group programs, interactions and various approaches that still promote happiness and humor in a more scientific way. And you can’t really argue with science and stats. It also makes sense that talking to people without jargon. Talk in a way that is positive, upbeat and honest, and at times humorous, or at least denotes ‘good humor’. This will get people on board. Once people understand the Laughology approach, they get it quickly and see the benefits.

Have you had to break negative behaviors in clusters of people, i.e. mob mentality?

As part of a long term consultancy and transformation program we lead with an organization, we had the challenge of working with individuals, teams and groups who were in unions. The organization was transforming from what used to be a traditional public sector organization with unions to a privatized company with new talent and ideas. The leadership team were a mix of old and new, and managers were too. This posed a huge challenge with behaviors along with added pressures of a unionized culture.
The key to getting people on-board was to work with some of the key drivers from the unions to help shape vision and values and to understand from them what key areas from their perspective needed development – and why and how. We wanted to build alliances and show that we were really listening to them, it wasn’t just ‘going through the motions’. We on-boarded a group of champions who were key in building positive relationships, breaking down barriers and helping to discharge any negative behaviors. They also fed back to us what was really being heard, communicated and helped us understand what to do about it. Yes there were still individuals who were not prepared to move forward.  Working on many programs, this is sometimes an unfortunate outcome of change. I believe it is okay to have people who disagree with new ideas, sometimes it even helps and is engaging to ask why they think that is important.  However sometimes it is just time for people to find something new that may be more in line with their lifestyle, values and what they want. Helping these people in a transformation process is just as important as managing the change.

Do you have examples of companies using humor in internal communications?

Yes, there’s lots of innovative and exciting ways humor can be used. We have helped design road-shows to deliver messages in an engaging way, used cartoons to help engage employees in new ideas, held workshops using improvisation to understand challenges and communicate these up and down. As talked about at this conference, one of the most important ways is helping people be emotionally intelligent using our humor toolkit FLIP, and using FLIP (Focus/Language/Imagination/Pattern breaking) to think about communications. It is also really important to understand that delivering messages in a way that is optimistic, fun and engaging should be part of a culture or development strategy. Using it just as a one-off session to put a band-aid over an issue won’t work. You need to build it in as part of your approach, your culture, the way you do things.

For more information on Laughology visit their site at www.laughology.co.uk


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