4 Reasons Why Humour in the Workplace is Important

Last modified 24 August 2022
Categories: Communication, Organisations & Culture
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
4 Reasons Why Humour in the Workplace is Important

Joking around in the workplace is often frowned upon. Maybe you worry that you won’t be taken seriously enough if you’re seen as funny, and there’s a risk factor to using humour which many of us want to avoid. What if our joke is taken literally? What if we offend somebody? Daunting it may be, but there are several compelling reasons why judicious use of humour can help your workplace become happier and more productive – and we’ll discuss how to avoid the pitfalls as well.

1. Humour helps morale

As you’d expect, a workplace which feels fun and friendly to be in is one that will encourage happy employees. Morale is directly linked with motivation, so it’s in every manager’s interests to encourage high morale. If a little levity smooths that path, all the better!

2. Humour helps your health

‘Laughter is the best medicine’, they say, and it is certainly true that laughing has been linked with both short and long term health benefits. Laughing stimulates the heart and lungs, increases blood flow around the body and increases feel-good endorphins released from the brain. It can also increase your ability to cope with difficult situations or break the ice to prevent a potential conflict.

3. Humour breaks down barriers

It’s perhaps not surprising that most of us feel more comfortable sharing a joke with a co-worker than our boss; the risk of a superior taking your humour the wrong way is greater than someone with no power over you. But a shared joke actually establishes common ground and lessens the perception of difference between people.  Research shows that where someone is telling a compelling story, the storyteller and their listeners are mirroring one another’s brain patterns and fostering connections that strengthen their bond.

4. Humour helps your career

The research on this is compelling: in a Robert Half International Survey, a staggering 91% of executives who responded felt that a sense of humour was important for career advancement, and 84% agreed that someone with a good sense of humour does a better job. Humour makes you appear calm and in control of a situation, and able to look at it with perspective, imbuing you with a greater air of authority. Whether you’re in a managerial position or just looking to step up the ladder, a well timed piece of humour can only help your chances.

The right way to use humour

There are some dos and don’ts to using humour in the workplace. Jokes that mock someone’s age, ethnicity, religion or appearance are always off limits – remember the comedian’s adage: punch up and not down. Never forward emails or videos containing ‘funny’ imagery – it’s too risky that a recipient will be offended or that the email will be forwarded on to someone else by mistake. Keep your jokes face to face where possible. Keep jokes short; a throw-away one-liner is always going to be better received than a long ‘shaggy dog tale’. And lastly, if you’d rather curl up and die than be the centre of attention, it’s fine to stay away from making jokes yourself; eye contact and laughing at someone else’s witticisms will go a long way towards fostering the connections and benefits discussed above.

What do you think?

Does your workplace encourage humour? If so, how? Comment to share your experiences with humour in the workplace.

This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Robert Half, Forbes, The Atlantic, Mike Kerr, Humor That Works, Entrepreneur, Mayo Clinic.

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