Leadership Lesson: Using Communication (and Laughter) as a Morale Booster

June 18, 2021

Happy collegues laugh discussing project in coworking space

Communication has become a necessary leadership tool in the past year. We heard many great leaders discuss the various communication activities they used to enhance organization function and morale. Even though we encountered challenges we never imagined, great ideas, science breakthroughs and unlikely partnerships blossomed among all the loss, pain and isolation we experienced.

Learning that the world was shutting down was terrifying for some of us. We worried about shopping and day-to-day routines and felt a sense of loss and freedoms being restricted. Some were concerned about not making the social connections that were part of their coping methods. Many weren’t able to attend family events, worship services or therapy.

Leaders from families, businesses and communities stepped forward to teach others how to connect through technology. Dr. William Ferro, owner of Betr Health, a lifestyle change company, said that established online meeting and telehealth platforms were “a solution waiting for a problem.”

Family leaders coordinated game nights using online apps and live videos. Healthcare providers pivoted to using platforms already available to patients, and medical payers quickly adjusted policy to allow payment for those services. Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous and similar support organizations figured out how to host online meetings. Churches embraced Facebook Live to message and communicate with their congregations in a way that televised services never could.

Alliant Health Solutions leadership increased communications through town hall meetings and frequent CEO updates. Then Alliant went a step further to boost morale through trivia nights and other fun social events. Supervisors check in with staff routinely.

The Alliant Quality staff created monthly “wind down” meetings to check-in and do non-business-related bonding activities. Attendance is optional, and leadership participates. Each event is hosted by a different staff person who comes up with a topic. Past topics have varied from “hairdos over time” to “best pick-up line/proposal” and “what new skills/arts and crafts have you taken up.” Attendees create fun PowerPoints or tell stories. We meet each other’s spouses, children, grandchildren, dogs, cats and goats. We celebrate successes and share our dreams and plans for the future. And we laugh. Sometimes with gentle chuckles. Sometimes with near-hysterical laughter.

We don’t talk about isolation or fear. We laugh and share. Our leaders recognize the need for laughter, sharing and normalcy, even if just for a little while. Our team has knitted together through the pandemic. We’ve shared and grown as a team—another aspect of the communication creativity and resilience brought on by last year’s challenge.

G.K. Chesterson once wrote, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” Setting aside time for humor and to forget the seriousness of it all has helped our team continue flying. So I’m thankful for recognizing the need to step away from it all from time to time.