Having Monitored Fun
in the Workplace
by Robert Moore
Hello, I'm Ronald McDonald! No, that's a funny joke. My real name is Robert
Moore and I am a management consultant by profession. By vocation, however,
I'm an office jokester! If you find urine in your coffee cup, think of me
I'm a bit like a walking, talking version of the Dilbert comic strip that
hangs above the copier in your office. Like that strip, I can bring fun
and levity to a workplace that might otherwise seem to be lacking in fun
What's so wrong about joking around in the office? If you want my opinion,
nothing. You might be a middle-manager and think I'm some sort of unreasonable
lunatic that wants to open the corporate purse strings and let the workers
run wild. You might say "Hey, Robert, are you crazy? People can't have
fun in the office. That will destroy productivity." If you are one
of these people, the joke is on you. And it isn't the funny, productive
kind of joke. No, I spend half of my waking hours teaching business executives
such as yourself how to extract more effort from your workers through humor.
Randy Shandis, Chief Executive Officer of Randy Shandis Enterprises, told
me recently about his latest venture, The Gift Website. A
"humor site" he said. And then he asked me my professional opinion,
"is there money in humor?" Well, when he asked me that I practically
shit my pants.
There's gold in institutionally mandated humor. Humor, when used and managed
effectively, can make your employees more productive cogs in your corporate
machine. A laughing employee more quickly forgets the miserable worthlessness
of his existence and gets on to the daily drudgery. A smiling employee masks
his discontent and horror from potential clients. The demons that gnaw achingly
painful holes in his or her intestines are forgotten long enough to finalize
that sales report.
My old enemies would say that I'm the last person they'd want to see teaching
effective humor. They'd call me "Most likely to go to the gas chamber",
or "Least likely to ever, ever be funny". But, again, the joke
is on them. No, I learned that you don't have to be funny to be funny.
It isn't something you're born with. It is something you force on others.
Not too much humor, I caution my clients. Too much humor and the employee
forgets who his boss is and what is required to keep his job. No, humor,
when doled out in little tastes designed to keep the workers coming back
for more, is a highly effective weapon in your employee-employer arsenal.
I introduced the staff of The Gift to a few of my "hilarious"
techniques to bring humor into the workplace. Randy wanted to make sure
that the staff that he is paying out of his own pocket until the ball starts
rolling, aren't goofing around. He wanted to make sure they were developing
funny stuff eight or more hours a day, day in and day out with no lulls
I am reprinting here the suggestions that went over so well with The
Gift staff. These are scientifically tested methods for making people
think productively bringing humor into the office.
1. Funny Voice Mail
Have your employees leave humorous voice mail for each other. Put a time
limit on them, so these calls do not become "time goblins", but
encourage them to leave messages such as, "Hi, Bob, this is Mike, in
cubicle 442. I just wanted you to know that I'm fucking your wife."
Of course, it wasn't Mike in cubicle 442 at all. It was Larry, in Cubicle
Smaller companies I work with ask if this trick applies to them as well.
You bet! Even a one-man company firm can have a beneficial good time with
funny voice mail. Just call yourself, use a disguised voice, and say something
funny like "boobs" or "wiener". Later, call back and
listen to the message. "Who did that?" you wonder. Then it will
be time to get back to work.
2. If you're a manager, lay people off.
For long enough now, laying people off has been seen as a tough job and
the boss invariably feels sorry for the newly unemployed. But that's only
because of our conditioning toward the human emotions. So, let's break the
mold and make it a festive ceremony! Bring in helium balloons, donuts, even
the folk singers. Make sure you don't fall into the entirely unrewarding
trap of compassion. Recognize that the person being laid off is supposed
to feel bad, not you.
It might take time, but slowly condition yourself through positive thinking
that laying someone off is fun and a treat. Soon enough, you'll be seeking
out heads to axe!
3. Tick Days
What do middle-managers want more than a little sympathy? And what's better
around the office than a little water cooler gossip about parasites? If
we can all agree that "nothing" is the answer to both of these
questions, then we can agree on ticks. Place ticks on the necks of your
staff and watch the FUN begin! The little buggers will gorge themselves
on human blood, while the corporate bottom line swells with cash. And the
prols in the office will have a blast comparing the size of their ticks.
4. Rock Around the Clock
Pop out of your office on the hour every hour and shout out "It's eight
'o' rock!" and "it's nine 'o' rock!"
5. War Paint
One thing that never fails to delight the workers into working voluntary,
uncompensated overtime is when you as the boss appears in the office wearing
war paint. Not only is it a humorous "sight" gag, but it also
serves as a reminder to your staff as to why you are in business in the
first place: to dominate and destroy those perceived to be your enemy.
6. The Famed Upper Tanker
I swear, half of my humor consulting business comes as a result of this
stunt I once pulled at a conference in Houston. It has grown into the legend
it is today, referred to by humor consultants worldwide as "The Upper
If all else fails, and you see corporate morale continue its downward spiral,
I recommend this trick as a last resort. Visit the lavatory, pull the lid
off the "upper tank" or back of the toilet and deposit a really
juicy, stinky load of shit. Imagine the peals of laughter that will rumble
through the office when people identify the odor but cannot locate it.
Now, step back and look at the big picture. Imagine the amount of fun everyonewill
have when the janitor finally finds your gag and has to clean it up.
In conclusion, I hope that my advice is useful and productive for you, as
it was for the staff of The Gift. May you take these simple suggestions
and apply them to employees below yourself, and upon whom your own position
in the company relies. Good luck, and, hey, where's that smell coming from?