12 Most Random Reasons Why You Need to Make Your Employees Smile

12 Most Random Reasons Why You Need to Make Your Employees Smile

Ever feel like busting a move just because? Go ahead and bust a smile out right now. I’ll wait. Didn’t that feel fine?

Maybe you didn’t take my question seriously and read right past my request. That’s okay. I probably would’ve done the same. This though is exactly why I’m sharing this message.

Sometimes I exhaust myself with my deep thinking and serious messages. I’m a pretty serious guy driven by my clear sense of purpose in this world. I/We can only handle so much intensity before…well, see, here I go getting serious. Let’s change the direction of this post.

Leaders, we’ve got to also lead in ways that brings smiles to our employees’ faces. How about a completely random list of thoughts on why we need to make our employees smile? I promise to not dive too deep.

1. Use Self-deprecating Humor

I’ve got big ears. I can only imagine how big they’ll be when I’m 80. The song, “do your ears wobble to and fro” is somewhat damaging. Good thing they make for good jokes when I’m speaking or training others. It lightens the mood and acknowledges what people are already thinking. And this one really has nothing to do with why make employees smile.

2. Tuesdays Suck

At least Monday is the first day of the work week – it’s already dreaded. Wednesday is hump-day. Thursday is the day before Friday. Friday is Friday. Poor Tuesday it’s stuck in no-man’s land. It’s a nothing day. It’s uninspired.

3. Make up for the Fire Drills You Keep Starting

You’ve been cracking the whip driving your people crazy. You see them muttering obscenities about you under their breath. Be nice. Take them to lunch. Make fun of your big ears if you got them.

4. Cathartic Release is Needed

The tensions from work, the economy, politics, life all pile up. Give your employees a cathartic release. Bring onsite yoga, Zoomba(I went for the first time last Monday). Take them to a comedy club. Do something to shake free the pent up anxieties, frustrations. Bust a move. I’d tell you about the time I learned the reindeer dance for a class I taught, but I don’t have enough room here.

5. I Know Why Caged-birds Sing

Does this sound familiar: free water, fluorescent lighting, evil bosses, bad food? If this sounds like your office, then get your people outside fast. Let them run free.

6. Your Boss is a Bosshole

Perhaps you’re cracking the whip because your boss is doing the same to you and his to him. Maybe he’s cut the funding for a holiday party. No special luncheons. No nothing! Time to plan a series of low-budget activities to get your employees smiling, laughing, forgetting about the bosshole on the 13th floor.

7. Office digs remind us of a Dungeon

Do your employees eat their lunches chained to their computer? Is there a lack of lighting? Perhaps no windows? The office is freezing cold. Barely a plant alive due to the lack of lighting. Yup, it’s a dungeon. Smiles are definitely needed!

8. Hamster Wheels Weren’t Intended for Humans

The lettuce you put out for your employees as they arrived to work isn’t enough to sustain their energy for the day. It’s a day piled high with miles of projects, aimless meetings, constant interruptions, late nights because no work gets done during the day, committee meetings, and so on.

9. Endless Training for Meeting Marathons

About those meetings…who let it be okay to have meetings from 8-9, 9-10, 10-11, 11-11:30, 1-2, 2-4, 4-5:30? Email upper management that the cause for low productivity has been found. But send it at 7pm when you’re not in a meeting.

10. HR Busted the Fantasy Football Leagues

There’s not a better sound than the theme song for Sunday Night Football. It brings chills. And the one bright spot was the fantasy football league at work. It gave us something else to talk about. Then HR came in and said we were gambling. Curse you evil HR people!

11. Richard Marx on Endless Loop

You get on to the elevator and Richard Marx’s greatest hits is remade into cheesy instrumental versions. Emphasis on mental. And then we get to enjoy more of his original hits playing in the lousy speakers in the ceiling in cube-nation. The volume control was lost a long time ago. Richard Marx makes me sad.

12. Water Sorta Resembles Something Like Coffee

To run on the hamster wheel and to toughen up for the training for meeting marathon 2.0 we turn to coffee. Only at the office it’s really water that has some hint of coffee taste. I’d settle for Folgers.

I suspect you could add to this random list of reasons why leaders need to make their employees smile. Unfortunately you don’t have time since you’ve got to scoot off to another mind-numbing meeting. But come back after 7pm to share them below. Remember to breathe and get some sleep before the marathon tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt, used under creative commons. Some rights reserved.

Shawn Murphy


Shawn Murphy is founder and president of Achieved Strategies. He works with organizations helping leaders bring out the best in their people during times of change and through leadership development. His purpose is to help organizations restore optimism in the workplace and to work with leaders to lead in the 21st century. When not working, he blogs at Switch and Shift on topics to help leaders inspire optimism and New Era Leadership. He’s a coffee addict. Music fiend. Dry humorists. Movie junkie. Wannabe painter/artist. He’s working on his first book.

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ROFL! These are terrific, will need to remember to helpmeet smile on coworkers' faces. They will crack up over these. Loved poor old Tuesday? Thank You for this post.


Love this Shawn (@shawmu). Makes me want to channel my inner Michael Scott. Oh, wait, maybe not. (The Office is so uncomfortably real I can't watch it.)


Bosshole! I love it!

You definitely made me smile Shawn. :-D

Al Smith
Al Smith

Shawn. This is AWESOME ! I love it. Should be a poster on all lunch room boards, in every office in America. Ha ! I am all about Smiling and having a positive attitude. The mission is to help improve employee morale. All companies know they need it, but yet can't seem to find the time or money to do it. wow. Amazing. I will continue to share the message of CARE and great posts like this one. This is one that should be read by the entire world. Thanks again.



I dunno Shawn, this seemed pretty funny to me. Was that accidental? :)

I do get horribly jealous of people who are posting on beautiful days, "Oh gosh, so nice to be outside." Kind of hate those people, actually. But hey, I love my job. Every silver lining has a cloud, right? :)

Great post!

PegFitzpatrick moderator

Love this post Shawn!

At my last job we called it Bitchy Tuesday (in a fun day) because it was the worst day for client phone calls (Social Services) - we turned it around it a fun, joking day. I also love the "why the caged bird sings" section - people in cubicles can go crazy!

And yes, I do randomly break into song & dance frequently.




Sam, your examples illustrates that it doesn't have to take a high priced consultant to help improve the morale or make the workplace more satisfying. Self-deprecating humor with a big pinch of honesty can go far when it comes to having an honest conversation about causes of stress and angst. What I really like about your example is that the card was self-made. Much more relatable than the premade versions.


It's amazing how even a little humor can overshadow so much stress and angst in the workplace. This is a good discussion to have.

In the past, I used this tactic: placed a picture of myself on the lunch room bulletin board with a sign that said: "Today, Sam...."

I then laminated cards that said: "is over-caffinated", "is totally stressed", "should be avoided", "is in good spirits, ask for a raise", "needs a fashion consultant", "is a slave driver", " is Silly", etc. and welcomed them to change it daily based on their impressions of me.

Eventually, the staff started making up their own cards and bringing them in. It was a fun way to show that I don't take myself too seriously and made it ok for everyone to laugh a bit. It worked quite well.


@MaryS @MarySchafer Mary, have you watched the British original version? Thanks for swinging by to read and comment. It was a fun post to write.


@Biebert Aaron, I wish I could take credit for the term. I think it was in Fast Company that I heard the term. Says it all.


@Al Smith Al, I appreciate you spreading the word. Your enthusiasm is contagious, Al.


@margieclayman Hmmm...perhaps. I just couldn't bring myself to write another serious post on a serious topic. I appreciate you and your light-heartedness.



I knew there had to be a reason why we "connected" (that sounds wierd, eh) - you break into song and dance, too! Music doesn't need to be on for me to dance. And I have to say this white boy does have some moves, too.

Always appreciate your support Peg!


@westfallonline @westfallonline Chris, indeed. Stress has nasty ways of affecting people and work.


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