Friday, April 24, 2009


Getting paid to laugh at work? Sounds pretty ridiculous. But wait, if you look at the evidence of how valuable it is to laugh—even at work—it's actually ridiculous to not laugh.

Laughter yoga in the workplace is starting to catch on and for good reason. Here are some of the benefits of it:

• Boost to morale 
• Improved personal/professional performance
• Enhanced teamwork, trust and enjoyment at work
• Increased energy and ability to manage stress
• Enriched quality of work/life balance
• Heightened workplace creativity
• Improved customer care and service delivery
• Decreased absenteeism, burnout and turnover
• Improved productivity and organization
• Fewer accidents and compensation claims
• Overall better employee health

In 2007, a study was done in the US to determine the effectiveness of laughter yoga in the workplace. Workers were asked to participate in a laughter session for just 15 minutes a day. Within weeks there were significant improvements in all areas studied, with positive changes of 100% occurring in a number of areas. It is particularly interesting to note the long-lasting effects of the laughter interventions. Click here to read more.

I am proud to say that two of my laughter yoga students have undertaken the task of forming and leading a workplace laughter club. Teresa Gonyer and Kathy Shea (below) work in Minnepolis, Minnesota at the Board of Pensions office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). They promote wellness within the ELCA so a laughter club makes perfect sense for their office.

I made a visit on their office last week and got to meet some of the fellow laughers, such as Tammy Devine (picture with me below), who is the ELCA Board of Pension's Wellness Manager, and an excellent laugher, I must say.

Below is a segment of their laughter club showing off their laughing talents.

Here is an interview I did with Kathy and Teresa about their corporate laughter club.

Laura: How did you decide to start a laughter club at work?

Kathy: I did what we call a Share and Learn (30 minute presentation to fellow employees about what makes you well) on the value FOR ME of practicing intentional laughter. That presentation included something about laughter yoga and a news clip about you. Teresa loved it so much, she wanted to get involved. Others liked it as well so we started a laugh club. As we got more serious, Teresa and I signed up for your training workshop and become certified laugher yoga leaders.

Laura: When did you begin?

Kathy: The presentation was in fall 2007. We started laugh club in Jan 2008 then got certified April 2008, have continued laugh club (with some significant breaks) since then.

Laura: How often do you meet?

Kathy: Once a week for 15 minutes.

Laura: What has the response been? 

Kathy: We now maintain an e-mail mailing list of about 15 active, interested folks. At any one session, we’ll get 3-6 attendees.

We paused at one point to re-consider due to low attendance and decided to survey our list of 20 people. In response to the question: How do you feel at the end of a laugh session, 92.9% answered “better.” When asked the primary reason for not attending, 87% said “work obligations.” When asked: To keep laugh club at the board, would you be willing to attend more often?, 73% said yes.

We've had some complaints about the noise the laughter club creates. So one of our ongoing challenges is to find a location that doesn’t create problem noise for those who are not participating.

Laura: How has laughing by means of the wellness tool of laughter yoga changed your life?

Kathy: I get most benefit from laughing intentionally on my own. It’s empowering to know I can feel better just by taking that simple step – wherever I am. A regular laugh club experience adds that wonderful group dimension.

Teresa: Overall, I feel better! I enjoy laughing with others, I laugh watching others laugh. I get a kick out of watching others create their own laughter exercises that we now use in our laughter sessions.

Laura: Do you have any advice for those looking to use laughter yoga in a corporate setting?

Kathy: Here are my suggestions...
• Emphasize the health benefits and stress reduction possibilities
• Don’t exceed a time commitment of 15 minutes
• Don’t attempt more than once a week
• Don’t go low-profile like we did after some initial push-back. Instead, push the benefits.

Below is a video clip of Kathy and laughter club member, Susan Ahrens, demonstrating their original laughter exercise called "Throw Your Head Back and Laugh Like a Man Laughter"! Try it yourself, it really gets you laughing.

So there you have it, laughter clubs at work are a great thing! Do you have a club at work you'd like to report? Do you have any other advise for the rest of us? If so, please e-mail me at

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