Executives and managers today are increasingly acknowledging that laughter is good not only for personal health and well-being, but for career success and overall workplace wellness as well. Laughter can motivate and facilitate team building, improve stress management, and increase productivity and morale.
In other words, business can (and should) be a laughing matter. Still, for too many, the prevailing attitude is that one cannot be “professional” and have fun at the same time. The office motto has become the athlete’s: No pain, no gain. If you’re laughing, then you’re not working.
Injecting humor in the workplace is not about turning your organization into a comedy club. It’s not about entertaining others or being able to tell a joke. It’s not about pranks, practical jokes or juvenile antics. Instead, it’s more of an attitude, a way of viewing and processing things.
Laughter breaks down barriers, builds relationships and allows for better communication among coworkers. People with a sense of humor often have the ability to deal effectively with people and work issues; they are able to keep the severity of problems in perspective.
Humor also enhances motivation, collaboration and team-building, quickly creating a climate in which people feel motivated, energized and ready to contribute. You could say that the group that plays together stays together.
Laughter reduces workplace stress and breaks up boredom and fatigue. Happier, more relaxed workers are able to better focus on tasks, make fewer errors in their work and produce more. They also stick around longer, are absent less and don’t burn out.
Humor also helps to minimize resistance to change. It is a good weapon to defend against the stress of reorganizing, downsizing, outsourcing and other negative trends in today’s workplace.
Humor unleashes much-desired creativity and divergent problem-solving. For example, good jokes guide us down one path only to suddenly track us onto another with the punch line. This breaks the mind set of our thinking and leads to increased creativity.
The bottom line: All work and no play isn’t even good for work.
Tips for Bringing More Humor into Your Work Life
Attention all executives and managers: Lead the humor parade. Fun and laughter affects attitudes. And once you affect attitudes, you can unleash a new level of productivity and commitment in your organization (or in yourself). But where do you start? Following are just a few suggestions to get your own creative humor juices flowing:
Make it a point to look for humor. The more you do, the more you’ll find (and receive!). Try looking at things from an out-of-the-ordinary perspective.
Collect humor. Using your humor profile, start a funny file, collecting cartoons, jokes, comic strips and stories from newspapers, magazines and friends. Set aside a portion of your office or desk or wall as a “humor corner.”
Encourage laughter in your work. Establish a humor bulletin board (digital or analog), keep a prop box, play simple games on a regular basis, gather a “fun committee,” encourage humor breaks.
Laugh at yourself. One of the characteristics of effective leaders is the ability to laugh at themselves when things they try don’t work. Without that, people view them as critical.
Use humor in the course of normal business. Add humor to presentations, performance evaluations, meetings, in memos, newsletters and emails, and at parties and recognition events.
Keep the humor appropriate for work. Nothing is unfunnier than mean-spirited, derogatory, or profane humor. Keep it professional and compassionate.