Humour at Work

Isn’t it uplifting when you work alongside someone with a sense of humour! Some people have a natural gift for making you laugh at just the right moment; others are great at appreciating humour, sharing cartoons and lightening the mood with their laughter. (Of course, I’m talking here about upbeat or silly humour, not the bullying kind where jokes are made at someone else’s expense.)

Research shows that people who use humour at work are more productive, less stressed, happier and even paid more than people who don’t. One study found 16 benefits of using humour in the workplace, including creating team unity, promoting equality and encouraging participation in meetings. Another found 10 benefits, including improved mental health and better conflict resolution. Humorous presentations make a more lasting impression and bosses who use humour are seen as more credible.

All of which suggests that increasing humour in the workplace reaps a ton of rewards. But before you start cracking jokes willy-nilly at the next office meeting, consider this. The studies above are really about correlation, not simply causation. In other words, people who are more productive, better paid, happier and less stressed are more likely to share a joke than those who are underpaid and under pressure; confident bosses are likely to be comfortable making jokes, and workplaces where people feel safe are more conducive to humour.

I see humour as both a cause and a result of a happy workplace. It’s an indicator of how emotionally safe the workplace is. Using humour can be risky, but when one or two people feel confident enough to break the ice, it indicates that it is safe to be funny in this environment. Then others are more likely to join in, and humour becomes an integral part of a happy workplace culture.

Stephanie Hills ©


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