Stand-up performer and Laugh.Events founder Kevin Hubschmann believes comedy will play an important role in workplaces of the future.
HR professionals have been pulling out all the stops to keep business moving during the pandemic. They’ve had to recruit and onboard new joiners remotely and keep employee engagement up from afar.
All of this has required a strong understanding of technology and digital tools. But as we learn more about the working ideal in this brave new world – one that will likely see teams divide their time between the office and working from home – it’s worth keeping tabs on what your arsenal might be missing. Kevin Hubschmann, founder and host at Laugh.Events, thinks it could be comedy.
A stand-up comedian himself, Hubschmann married his lifelong passion with his entrepreneurial spirit, having been a founding member of event marketing software company SplashThat.com, to set up New York-based corporate comedy provider Laugh.Events.
Here, he tells us why companies should consider comedy and ‘laughter as a service’ as additions to the HR toolkit.
‘Companies that focus on the physical and mental health of their employees are the ones that win at employee engagement’
– KEVIN HUBSCHMANN
How did you come to develop this idea?
Comedy has always been a passion of mine, whether it was trying to make my older brothers and sisters laugh at the dinner table growing up or performing improv and stand-up in New York after college. In 2015, I hit the stand-up stage for the first time, performing in ‘bringer’ shows where I was stuffed in a line-up of 12-plus comics with similar amateur skills in exchange for bringing 10-plus people.
I thought, if I want my friends to keep coming, these shows should actually be incredibly fun and entertaining. So I thought I’d start hosting my own shows and inviting New York’s best stand-up comics to share the stage. From there, we put on monthly shows and built a loyal following of comedy lovers.
When the pandemic paused our in-person shows for the foreseeable future, we knew we wanted to contribute to virtual comedy, we just weren’t sure how yet. Doing stand-up to a virtual audience takes a lot of nuance from both the comedian and the audience.
So just like any start-up, I started approaching friends and family with doing shows for them to try and understand what was necessary from the audience and from the comedian. From there, we found the perfect formula to create personalised comedy shows for corporate audiences.
Why do you think it’s important to bring laughter to workplaces?
Comedy can be very impactful to workforces during this time as remote work carries on. Employees are working longer hours, have limited to no in-person interactions and are experiencing a non-existent work-life balance.
Laughter not only connects people with one another, but it can also combat stress, anxiety and depression that many employees have faced this past year.
Companies that focus on the physical and mental health of their employees are the ones that win at employee engagement and retention. Since humour can affect both physical and mental health, it’s almost imperative that it be mixed in each work week.
As remote work continues to be normalised, companies are realising that a virtual culture will need to be established to stay competitive in acquiring and retaining top talent.
Companies who invest in their employees’ happiness are the ones who will attract and retain top talent. What makes people happier than laughing with the people you go to war with every day? Well, outside of bags of cash. Bags of cash might be our biggest competitor in making people happy.
What kind of events would you recommend teams hold to boost staff morale this year?
Any activities that fall under our Laughing and Bonding segment – team trivia, workplace bingo, workday update and musical comedy – would be great for HR teams to coordinate for teams, departments or the entire company. These shows are essentially a show by the audience, for the audience.
Prior to attending the show, audience members are asked to complete a short survey that aid in personalising the show. From there, Laugh.Events puts together a show with a comedian and a customised activity that allows employees to participate, connect and bond with their team members on a more personal level.
Are there things to be mindful of when hosting these types of events?
The most common question on everyone’s mind is, will this be appropriate for our group and will anyone be offended? In order to mitigate that risk, we require our event organisers to dictate the tone of the event by completing a short pre-event survey.
This way, we can learn more about the group and pick a comic that would be the best fit for them and their event. This process has worked very well for us and has received great feedback from our post-event survey.