In a 2005 study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Michael Miller, M.D. reported a correlation between laughter and increased blood flow. According to the research, laughter appears to affect the endothelium - the tissue that lines the walls of blood vessels - causing it to expand, thus increasing blood flow. In the course of their study, Dr. Miller and his researchers discovered that when healthy volunteers watched and reacted with laughter to a humorous scene from a movie, their blood flow increased by 22%. According to their report, that is about the same increase one would experience in the course of performing aerobic exercises. Another interesting observation from the study is encapsulated in this statement from Dr. Miller, "At the very least, laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium."
In his book, The Gifted Boss, Dale Dauten touches on the importance of laughter in the workplace. During the course of a fictional discourse between two old friends, the mentor says, "If you don't walk through your department and hear laughter, then you're not doing it right. When people are doing what they do best, they feel a special energy that comes close to giddiness. That could be one standard you put on yourself - you walk the halls and count how many laughs you hear."
Most every workplace is fraught with stressors of some sort. While stress, in acceptable levels, can be a positive force that pushes us to perform, if increased to extreme levels, it can become a negative force that saps our energy and creativity and kills productivity. In the study mentioned above, those same volunteers who watched a stressful scene from a movie experienced a decrease in blood flow of 35%.
To balance stress and keep it within acceptable levels, a wise manager utilizes humor to relieve the stress among his employees. Laughter not only reduces the stress level, it increases the blood flow to the brain which in turn affects the mood and productivity of workers. Not only are they producing better work, but they are happy while doing it.
Quote taken from: The Gifted Boss - How to Find, Create and Keep Great Employees (Revised Edition) ©2011 by Dale Dauten, Published by HarperCollins