I recently went into a business to buy a few things for my car. I was a little overwhelmed by how miserable everyone in this store looked and how serious they acted. There didn't really seem to be a good reason for it, but I was desperate to get out and I will never be going back.

Fortunately there aren't too many businesses like this but there is no doubt that some businesses suffer from what I call terminal seriousness. There hasn't been a smile cracked on the premises for quite some time and there is no real chance of one occurring in the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, terminal seriousness has crept into workplaces, and many business owners wanting to lighten up the place a little don't know where to start. They can't remember why things got so serious and why the laughter stopped but they want it back.

So here are ten simple ways to encourage your team to laugh a little more often and to take things a little less seriously. I know that some of them might sound a little corny, but that's part of having fun.

  1. Develop a Fun Committee--this committee's job is to come up with ideas for making your workplace a whole lot more fun. (People need to volunteer for this, and ideally need a good sense of humor.)
  2. Joke of the day--share the responsibility around and get everyone to take turns at coming up with a joke of the day.
  3. Ugly shirt day--while many businesses already look as if they are holding this competition every day, make it a special event.
  4. Baby pictures--have a pin-up board with baby pictures of every member of your team--and you!
  5. Have a fun zone--this can be where people go when they need to laugh. It can have a few silly toys, some joke books--really, anything that can raise a smile.
  6. Baking day--have a rotating roster for everyone to bake something and bring it into work. There must be guidelines to make it equal and everyone should at least try the end result.
  7. Have a weekly buddy system--everyone gets allocated a buddy for one week, and the buddy has to look after the 'boss', get them tea and coffee, buy their lunch, and so on. But the catch is, the next week, you swap.
  8. Introduce spontaneity--take your team out for coffee, bring in a treat or just do something out of the ordinary.
  9. Successes Board of Fame--have a notice board with staff successes for the month. This can be any success, not just work related - so that raises all kinds of interesting awards.
  10. Have a 'something you didn't know about me' day--every member of your team tells the rest of the team one thing that no one at work would know about them.

Start having more fun at work today. If your workplace is a little humour-challenged, give it time, don't try to turn it into the local comedy club overnight. Start small, work your way up, but start today. And remember that laughing is also an excellent form of rejuvenation--15 minutes of laughter has the same relaxing effect as meditating for eight hours; ten minutes of laughter has the same relaxing effect as two hours' sleep.