Add humor to motivate, encourage teamwork and boost morale

We’ve all heard that “laughter is the best medicine.” Did you know that it’s easier to smile than to frown? Scientists have discovered that your body has to work harder and use more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

Why not add a little humor to your workday and reap the benefits?

Research has shown there are many benefits to using humor in the workplace and here are just a few from the experts:

Ten Benefits of Humor in the Workplace

  1. Humor gets people to listen.  In a Harvard Management update “Let the Good Times Toll – Building a Fun Culture,” David Stauffer says: “Consistent use of appropriate humor makes people want to read and hear what you say.”
  2. Humor connects us with others. “Positive sounds such as laughter or a triumphant ‘woo hoo!’ can trigger a response in the listener’s brain,” says Jane E. Warren in a December 2006 article in The Journal of Neuroscience. “The response is automatic and helps us interact socially by priming us to smile or laugh, and thereby connecting us with the other person.”
  3. Humor encourages people to work together. “A growing body of research shows that when you share a laugh with someone, you’re mirroring not only one another’s body language, but also the hormonal and neuronal activity, prompting a mutual investment in each other’s well-being,” Drake Baer writes for Fast Company in “Why Humor Makes You More Creative,” May 2013.
  4. Humor improves decision-making. “Positive moods prompt more flexible decision-making and wider search behavior and greater analytic precision,” says Lydia Dishman in January 2013 for Fast Company,“Secrets of America’s Happiest Companies.”
  5. Humor boosts overall brainpower. “A dose of humor releases the chemical serotonin in your brain, which improves focus, increases objectivity and improves overall brainpower,” according to Robyn McMaster in a September article for Brain Based Biz.
  6. Humor provides motivation. In a 1999 Academy of Management Journal article, B.J. Avolio advocates humor for boosting morale. “The use of humor in organizations has been associated with improving morale among workers, creating a more positive organizational culture, … and increasing motivation,” Avolio says.
  7. Humor reduces absenteeism. “Humor is associated with enhanced work performance, satisfaction, workgroup cohesion, health, and coping effectiveness, as well as decreased burnout, stress, and work withdrawal,” says Jessica Mesmer-Magnus in a 1986 meta-analysis of humor in the Journal of Managerial Psychology.
  8.  Humor improves productivity. Employees buy into it. “In one study of more than 2,500 employees, 81 percent said they believe a fun working environment would make them more productive,” according to Lauren Breeze, in a 2014 article in Perspectives in Business.
  9.  Humor burns calories. In an article “Give Your Body a Boost with Laughter” in WebMD in June 2012, R. Morgan Griffin writes: “Laughing 100 times can burn as many calories as 10-minutes on a stationary bicycle.”
  10. Humor improves blood flow. “Watching 15 minutes of funny video can improve blood flow to your heart by 50 percent,” Denny Watkins writes in 50 Ways to Beat the Reaper” in Men’s Health in October 2007

Do you need more tips for making your workplace more productive and efficient? Let the HR experts at BCN Services assist you. Contact us at 800-891-9911 or contact us here.



Lisandra Quinones, Human Resources Administrator


Employers have options for tattoo policies in the workplace

Do you have to hire the person with a dragon tattoo on their neck? What about a rose?

In 2009, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 36 percent of Americans age 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo. Those 29-year-olds are now 34 and approaching the middle of their careers! Even more revealing, a Harris poll taken in 2012 indicates that one in five adults has at least one tattoo.

How does your business deal with employees with visible tattoos? Do you allow employees to show those tattoos at work? What about facial piercings that are becoming more and more popular?

As tattoos and piercings become more commonplace, you may be concerned about your hiring practices regarding visible tattoos or whether to institute a policy for existing employees that arrive at work with one.

Be consistent with your policy

If you deal with the public and are concerned that employees with visible tattoos would cause a concern or be uncomfortable for your clients or customers, you have the right to set an appearance policy and require employees to follow it. You also have the right to not hire someone that has visible tattoos provided yours is not discriminatory.

Making certain you consistently enforce your policy is key. Also, be aware that you may need to accommodate an employee whose tattoo or piercing is a statement of a sincerely held religious belief. Keep in mind that some religions use tattoos or other body adornment items as a religious expression.

Caution is the order of the day when dealing with a claim of religious accommodation. Should an employee claim that a tattoo, piercing or other adornment (such as certain clothing garments) is a sincere religious belief, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that the employee does not have to provide proof from an organized religion to support claim of a sincerely held religious belief. This is a bit of a slippery slope for many employers. Religious accommodation does not require an affiliation with any organization or group.

So to review: You have the right to establish a dress code/personal appearance policy and, as long as it is published, is not discriminatory and you have a reasonable business reason for the policy, you can refuse to hire someone with visible tattoos or require employees to cover visible tattoos or remove visible piercings.

You have a right to expect your employees have a professional and business-like appearance.

How about employees who don’t deal with the public?

While a policy for employees that deal directly with customers or the public is reasonable, what if an employee does not deal with customers or interact with the public? Do you need or want to prohibit visible tattoos? What impact does it have on fellow employees? Is there a need to address tattoos in a warehouse setting, manufacturing environment or an office setting where there is no customer or public contact? In those cases such a policy may simply limit your recruiting, hiring or retention.

If you have employees that work in both public and non-public settings, you can differentiate and maintain separate policies if you can show a legitimate business reason for doing so.

Perhaps you decide to stop fighting an uphill battle and only ban or require employees to cover offensive tattoos or those that, for example, might scare children. As an employer, you can set a reasonable standard and review this on a case-by-case basis. A flower or heart  may be deemed acceptable, for example, while a dragon or sexually themed image could be prohibited or required to be covered.

The best practice for employers is to base dress codes on objective criteria such as workplace safety and professional image and make reasonable accommodations for employees with body adornment, dress and/or grooming-related requirements that do not adhere to the dress code, but do not present health or safety concerns.

If you need to establish a policy, revise a policy or discuss the situation further, your BCN Services Human Resources Department or your BCN Partnership Manager are available to help guide you through the options and provide you with best practice advice. Call us at 800-891-9911 or email us at



Jeff Walsh (200x190)

Jeff Walsh, Partnership Manager

Minimum wage increases in Michigan take effect starting Sept. 1

As you may be following in the news, Michigan’s minimum hourly wage has been approved to increase to $9.25 per hour by 2018.

This will be accomplished through a series of incremental bumps with the first one happening Sept. 1, 2014.  During August, be sure to watch your payroll packets for a copy of the updated compliance posters that must be posted in your workplace.

In addition to this first bump, the next increase will occur on Jan. 1, 2016 to $8.50 per hour.  From there it will move up to $8.90 on Jan. 1, 2017 and to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2018.  In legislating these increases, lawmakers determined that a gradual increase would be better for employers who might need time to adjust to paying employees more.

The law also increases the hourly minimum for employees who receive tips from $2.65 per hour to $3.52 per hour.  Employers with these employees need to be aware – as always – that if the combined hourly total of tips received and wages does not meet the state minimum wage, that it is incumbent upon the employer to make up the wage difference.

  • Below is a link to the new Michigan Minimum Wage and Overtime poster if you are looking for a sneak preview, and as always, please contact your Partnership Manager at BCN Services with any questions or concerns regarding your individual employment strategy:Email:
  • Phone: 734-994-4100 or 800-891-9911
  • Contact us here

Minimum wage and Overtime Poster




Sue Kester, HR Manager

Appreciation is key to motivating employees and improving work ethic

Too often employees feel like their efforts go unnoticed and that they can easily be replaced.

Recognizing employees regularly can help achieve a culture of appreciation within an organization. People who feel recognized and cared about produce more and better work.  A simple “thank you” can go a long way.

Showing appreciation to employees helps them to feel valued.  According to a recent survey by Glassdoor, more than half of employees surveyed admit they would stay longer at their jobs if their bosses showed more appreciation toward them. Appreciation should be genuine: It should be personalized to recognize each employee’s value and worth to the organization.

It may not come as a surprise that pay raises were ranked as the number one way to make people feel appreciated at work. However, there are several other ways to make employees feel appreciated:

  • Write a thank you note or tell an employee when they’ve done a good job
  • Sponsor a fun event or lunch for employees to boost team morale
  • Offer public acknowledgment by creating an “Employee of the Month” program or similar reward
  • Send a companywide email to recognize an individual employee for doing something exceptional
  • Let an employee go home an hour or two early on a Friday as a form of reward.

You have to look at the people you work with every day,” Walt Kurlin, a Disney facilitator for business programs was quoted saying on the Society for Human Resource Management website “They are your internal customers. How I treat my customers and how I treat my employees—I have to do both the same way.”

If we can assist you with ideas for employee motivation and programs, contact the Human Resources experts at BCN Services at 800-891-9911 or email We’re here to help.

Amanda Cline (200x184)

Amanda Cline, HR Generalist