Crippled CEO Blog #056:
There are lots of ways that companies measure success. Revenue, gross profit, net profit, growth, number of employees, working capital, brand awareness, positive reviews, and so on. And those are all valid. I certainly track them all.
But there’s another metric of success that you can’t find on a financial statement. One that I would rank higher than a lot of the items on that list.
Employee laughter; the number of times per day that I hear people laughing.
Now, if you are an actual business person, this likely seems at best silly, but more likely, it seems counterintuitive. Most managers would tell you that laughter means people are screwing around, that work isn’t being done, that they are having too much fun — especially in a workplace like mine, where the majority of the staff is in a warehouse doing manufacturing and shipping.
There’s some truth to that. People laughing aren’t being optimally productive at that moment. They’re not pumping out widgets at maximum efficiency whilst laughter ensues.
But that’s generally true all day long for a million reasons. And happy employees do better work. Happy employees will stay late when the chips are down and things need to get done. Happy employees are better, more creative problem solvers. Happy employees are nicer to their coworkers, which creates a domino effect of happiness. Happy employees create a happier environment, and since I spend a third of my life there, too, this is pretty important to me. And you have to be pretty damn happy to be able to laugh often. So, if happy employees are a goal, and they are, then laughter is an excellent metric to track that by.
So, the next question is, how do I go about improving this metric? Fortunately for me, I am hilarious, so right off the bat, I just joke with people. Besides creating laughter at that time, it also sets the example that this behavior is not only acceptable but encouraged. Showing my sense of humor encourages other people to do the same. Also, we do our best to hire kind people. We are in the process of creating new employee training systems, and being nice is at the top of the list — our #1 core value, way ahead of competency or expertise or literally anything else.
I haven’t found a way to systematize tracking the number of laughs per day, but I have thought about it. And if I could find an easy way to do it, I would. I have the Chinese character for laugh tattooed on my left thigh (probably not the best idea to tell people to laugh when they take my pants off, but so far no one who speaks Mandarin has seen it in person). More laughter makes the world a better place. I think it is our responsibility to create more of it where we can. And if you own a business, that is a culture you have control over. You have the opportunity to make more laughs happen in your small universe. So you should. It is good for your business. It is good for you as a person. But it’s also good for the world.
(Do you know somebody that runs a business or a department that would appreciate this? You should forward it to them. Maybe share it on your Facebook page and tag them. Maybe print it out, put it in an envelope, and mail it to their house. There are infinite possibilities. But all of them make you look like a better person. If you want to make sure that you never, ever miss a post, text the word CRIP to the number 484848. I will send you one message per week with a link to the latest blog. You’re welcome.)