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A local Richmond comedian was spreading around the laughs last week and he hopes it is contagious.
Kent Rader spent 17 years as an accountant before moving on to become a full-time comedian. Rader has an apartment in New York City that he shares with three other comedic writers.
At last week’s Richmond Kiwanis Club meeting, Rader used comedy to express how humor can be used in the work place to improve everything from employee attitudes to working conditions that have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line.
“I believe humor is the one thing that we can bring to our business that doesn’t cost us a thing, but it has tremendous healing properties,” Rader said.
He said humor can reduce stress and improve health but it can also build collaboration between employees and it fosters teamwork.
“It helps organizations tap into those creative problem solving skills that we all possess,” he said.
Rader said improving the overall environment around the work place with humor helps retain employees and keep turnover at bay. He used Southwest Airlines as an example. Southwest typically pays about 20 percent less in wages than the average for air carriers, yet has the lowest turnover rate in the industry.
“Ten years ago they actually began to hire people because they had a sense of humor,” he said. “The number one reason cited by the employees is that it was fun to come to work.”
Flying on a plane isn’t always a fun experience, but Rader pointed out times he’s been on a Southwest flight and the crew made him laugh. He also pointed to a hospital experience where a nurse constantly kept his spirits up with her humor and sarcasm.
Rader said that he and his wife celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last March. He attributes his 25-year relationship to the fact that he and his wife have the ability to laugh even when times are tough.
Rader said people should try to get closer to the funny people in their organizations and hang out with those people so it can rub off.
“Hang out with those folks that have the ability to make you laugh at your job, and make them leaders in your organization,” he said. “Not only are they going to make your life a joy, they’re going to improve your business.”