The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up
by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher, John Wiley & Sons, 229 pages, $22.95, Hardcover, March 2008, ISBN 9780470195888
Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher have written a book whose tone perfectly matches its subject--levity. It isn't a word you often hear when discussing business strengths, but The Levity Effect
makes a compelling and often hilarious case for why fun should be more common in the workplace. The effects of levity and a sense of humor have on one's career and a company's bottom line have been extensively researched and the authors have gathered it all in these pages.
Most notably, the Great Place to Work Institute, which produces Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For," has found that "employees in companies that are denoted as 'great' responded overwhelmingly--an average of 81 percent--that they are working in a 'fun' environment" (13). And, as the authors point out, "If you had invested your beloved dough in the '100 Best' companies to work for over the past decade, you would have earned almost two times the return to the S&P 500" (19).
On a more personal note, "the Harvard Business Review reported that executives with a sense of humor climb the corporate ladder more quickly and earn more money than their counterparts" (137). This all makes sense, of course. People who are happy in their jobs are bound to be more productive and personable, more likely to dive into a project with excitement and have success doing so.
The case made in the Levity Effect--and research documented therein--is not only compelling, it's convincing. Part One of the book makes "The Case for Levity." After introducing the topic and providing some of the preliminary research, the book delves into chapters dedicated to each component of levity and the positive effects they have on the workplace: Humor improves communication; Fun inspires creativity; Respect engenders trust; Lightness positively affects health; and Wit creates wealth.
Part Two of the book is entitled "Getting Lighter" and is where the authors provide some actionable applications companies and managers can use to provide more levity in an organization. Chapter Seven is entitled "142 Ways to Have Fun at Work," and is literally a laundry list of suggestions for the less levity-prone management teams out there.
While much of the business world is still so "buttoned up," seemingly worried that people won't take their jobs seriously if they're enjoying themselves, having fun may just be your new competitive advantage.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.