On my last job search I came across the following position: Court Jester. You read that right. This particular company was hiring someone to liven up the office through his or her antics. At the time it was the only company I saw that had a position like that.
How times have changed... Just when you thought you had seen everything, here comes the humor consultant. We now seek advice from folks who claim to know how to keep workplaces fun and frivolous.
If I sound cynical, I'm not. Honest. I just sound that way when I write.
But, yes, we now have humor consultants. According to Portfolio.com
, these professionals are not teaching employees and management how to tell jokes or put on a comedy show. Instead, they are showing them to see the bright side of all situations. Finding some sunshine in what some would say are dark times is the ultimate goal.
The value of this could be great. After all, many of us spend long periods of time each day at the workplace. Why not make it enjoyable? Laughter and the endorphins that come with it just may make you like your job in the end.
Results, however, have been mixed thus far. Some snippets from the article:
- 'Patricia Clerico-Parham of Cisco Systems says [ New Yorker cartoon editor Bob] Mankoff's presentation there last year helped "defuse tension in a competitive environment where there's not much downtime." His talk was "an important reminder that it's okay to have fun, and brainstorming is not about blaming," she adds.
- One client, Tim Warneke, senior director of King Pharmaceuticals in Cary, North Carolina, says these sessions not only help employees learn how to "bring fun to work" but also coaches them on what is appropriate humor. "She gives feedback on what is and isn't going to fly," he says.
- Take the humor consultant who wore a red rubber clown nose while speaking to a regional gathering of State Farm employees. Spokeswoman Carolyn Fujioka says he was "pretty lame and he provided no revelations."
- A consultant who served up platitudes like "humor is a life-giving liquid" and "humor occurs at the speed of trust" to management trainees at McDonald's also was not well received. The company official who booked the guy angrily hung up on this reporter when asked about the experience.
Like with all consultants, do the due diligence. Determine if the consultant did improve the workplace and help contribute to better bottom lines for his or her clients. Bringing in a humor consultant is risky; the returns must merit that risk.
If you teach a person to laugh, then he shall laugh for a lifetime. Or something like that.
Do you see upsides in hiring humor consultants? Should we just seek out employees and managers with positive orientations instead? Can an optimistic outlook on worklife be taught?