“We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can.”
Will Rogers, American humorist and social commentator
If there was anyone who enjoyed a good laugh, it was Will Rogers. Peaking in popularity around the 1930s, he used an earthy, down-home style to poke fun at politicians, gangsters, government programs and other topical targets. His humor and wit helped carry the U.S. through the Great Depression.
Considering the amount of time we spend at work, we should heed Rogers’ advice and all share a good laugh or two each day. Having a sense of humor can benefit you and your workplace in many ways, according to several documented studies.
From a health perspective, humor can measurably reduce stress and lower blood pressure. From a business perspective, it can encourage teamwork, promote group cohesiveness, enhance leadership and communication, pump up creativity, motivate employees and help achieve objectives. An online search of “humor in the workplace” quickly uncovers several studies in support of humor’s effectiveness.
Nurturing a happier workplace by cracking wise
Research has shown time and again that people who enjoy their work are more productive and creative. By establishing an atmosphere of collegiality and friendly interaction, employees feel more in their “comfort zone.” Isn’t that the kind of atmosphere you want to be part of at work?
Humor in the office, though, should always be used appropriately, keeping in mind cultural differences. Obviously, there should be zero tolerance for humor that is racially, sexually or culturally oriented or directed at individuals.
Knowing when and where humor has its place is also an important consideration. I’ve been in meetings where a humorous remark helped break tension in the room. On the other hand, you don’t want humor to be constant, distracting or disruptive.
Another benefit of humor is that it can serve as a coping mechanism. How many of us have been frustrated by a task or project that just isn’t going the way we want it to? Stepping back and not taking ourselves so seriously might be the approach needed to get things moving in the right direction.
In addition to off-the-cuff humor, there are structured ways to add some levity to the workplace. It could be something as simple as putting up a bulletin board where employees can post appropriate cartoons and funny quotes. Or employees could plan a “funny hat” day or “finger foods only” lunch.
From my personal experience, a daily injection of humor and fun makes the work day go faster.