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8 Serious Reasons To Laugh More At Work

Summary: Humor may be one of the most underused management tools available. It’s free, it’s HR-approved, and studies show that it has a role to play in the modern working environment.

Here’s What You Don’t Know About Humor

A tasteful, kind, and well-placed joke can make people seem more competent in a professional setting:

  • Leaders with a sense of humor are seen as 27% more motivating than their neutral counterparts [1].
  • 91% of executives believe that humor is important when it comes to career advancement and make your leadership strategy work for you, your teams, and your organization as a whole [1].

Benefits Of Humor At Work

Beyond the benefits noted above:

  1. Humor has been scientifically shown to increase feelings of safety within a group environment. Humor leads to a cognitive shift, which stems from an emotional shift and the physical response that relaxes people as they laugh.
  2. Humor increases a sense of connectedness among remote teams. In an age where people rely heavily on machines for communication and can unintentionally end up sounding like machines, humor can feel humanizing and lead people to recognize their common ground.
  3. A sense of levity can make people feel more confident in their activities. Humor makes people feel more at ease, better able to learn, inspired, and capable.
  4. Humor leads people to think in increasingly creative ways. It helps people turn off the negative voice inside their heads and instead leads them to respond to new ideas with greater openness.
  5. Numerous studies show that humor makes people appear more likable and deserving of trust. People enjoy working with others whom they like and whom they trust. In turn, this can result in stronger business connections than you might see otherwise.
  6. Interested in winning friends and influencing people? Especially when you want employees to ignore the pull toward the Great Resignation [2]? Humor can help create an environment that people enjoy working within, reducing employee turnover rates.
  7. Studies indicate that humor thrown in at the end of a sales pitch can actually bump up customers’ willingness to pay by as much as 18% [3]. Dad jokes may retain the potential to influence your margins.
  8. Lastly, laughing can raise energy levels and enhance employees’ abilities to concentrate on tasks. Energizer bunnies that devour projects at light speed? Well, maybe humor can’t quite accomplish that, but you get the idea.

The Argument Against Humor

Of course, humor isn’t always necessary, welcome, or funny. In some cases, humor can prevent people from acknowledging and addressing actual issues. Overusing humor can make people seem incompetent and the role of “class clown” or “office clown” is never endorsed by anyone. However, cultivating an environment with a gentle sense of levity can make the workday a little less dull and a little more fulfilling.

Wondering If A Pandemic Is Really The Right Moment For Levity?

Although there is certainly room for debate, levity arguably can help people get through the challenges that life throws at them. For example, during the summer of 2021, a serious business blog published an article titled “19 of the funniest quotes about cybersecurity” [4]. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, this single article outperformed every other article on the site for months, and even elicited positive responses from a normally quiet audience, suggesting that levity can help people navigate uncertainty, challenges, and change.

In Conclusion

Everyone appreciates humor in some capacity. For organizations, humor is not only a nice-to-have, but also a management tool that leads to increased productivity, competence, connectedness, creativity, and higher employee satisfaction. From the use of humor, the English language derives the adjective “good-humored.” This reflects a sense of confidence and a sense of empathy, both of which are required in the workplace.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership…of getting things done.” The U.S. presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush were also known for their use of humor in difficult situations. There are many ways to get more out of your own role, your employees, and your organization—humor could help drive at least a few of the results that you’re looking for.

By Shira Landau