6 Blog [02 Feb] The Power Of Humour In The Workplace

​Have you heard the one about the boss who transformed the company culture by injecting some laughs into working life? Turns out it is no joke.

Studies have shown that when there is more laughter at work, it can boost everything from employee performance to group cohesion – not to mention the business’ bottom line. According to human capital and management consultants Hewitt & Associates, companies that engage employees to induce happiness, financially outperform other companies by 19%.

As a team leader or boss, you should be taking humour very seriously.

Organisations devoid of positivity or humour can be demotivating places to work where employees feel bored and uninspired. Having a sense of humour brings humanity and authenticity. It uplifts and enlivens the day.

Here are the benefits of humour in the workplace and why your employees (and customers) will have something to smile about.

1 Humour reduces stress and enhances employee wellbeing

“Good humour is a tonic for the mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.”

Grenville Kleiser

From deadlines to client demands, workplaces are hotbeds of stressful scenarios. In some cases, prolonged stress can lead to physical and mental illness. Humour can break tensions and put people at ease. It enlivens the mood and even promotes relaxation.

“There is strong evidence that humour reduces dysfunctional stress,” states the paper, The Use of Humour in the Workplace. “When making a joke about a stressful situation, one develops a sense of dominance and control over it.”

The stress reduction benefits aren’t just psychological – they’re physical too. When we laugh, it suppresses the bioactivities of stress hormones like epinephrine, cortisol, and 3,4-dihydro phenylacetic acid. As the old saying goes, laughter really is the best medicine; it literally changes the body on a biological level.

2 Humour encourages team bonding

“Laughter is the closest distance between two people.”

Victor Borge

Laughter is contagious. We are 30 times more likely to laugh in company than we are on our own. Laughter is the glue that strengthens social bonds and helps people connect. For you, this means your team members.

Humour can help break down barriers and diffuse difficult conversations, especially when you have a complex project or seemingly overwhelming task ahead.

As for the science of collective joking, when two people laugh, their brain patterns sync, mapping an emotional connection. The result is a strengthened bond which leads to more effective communication and collaboration. Get booking that entertaining team away day right now.

3 Humour boosts creativity and problem-solving

“If you go with your instincts and keep your humour, creativity follows. With luck, success comes too.”

Jimmy Buffet

An upbeat vibe of warmth, humour, and openness in the workplace catalyses creativity, brainstorming and risk-taking.

A large 2014 study observed the behaviour of 54 teams in industrial organisations in Germany by recording their team meetings. The researchers discovered that humour patterns in the meetings triggered positive socioemotional communication, outside-the-box thinking, and problem-solving solutions.

By bringing the LOLs as a boss, you can directly impact your team’s creativity and innovation, too. The study, Management Humour: Asset or Liability, found that when managers employ humour to persuade and motivate staff, it drives the cognitive process that boosts creative thinking. This is supported by a Korean study showing that a team leader’s self-enhancing humour positively influenced employees’ creativity.

4 Humour increases resilience which can reduce burnout

“You may not be able to change a situation, but with humour, you can change your attitude about it.”

Allen Klein

We’ve established that humour and laughter are great relievers of stress on both mental and physical levels. They also help build resilience, helping your team navigate challenges with greater ease as and when they arise.

The study, Resilience as a Mediator Between Workplace Humour and Well-being at Work, examined hundreds of healthcare professionals and the effect of humour in the workforce. Its findings “found resilience as a significant mediator between self-enhancing humour and wellbeing at work.”

Another study, Sense of Humour, Stable Affect, and Psychological Wellbeing, came to the same conclusion; that a good sense of humour (specifically, self-enhancing humour) was crucial for building resilience.

Humour is a weapon that can help your employees bend rather than break under pressure. It won’t remove obstacles, but it makes it easier to overcome and reduce the likelihood of dreaded burnout.

5 Humour improves memory

When delivering an important training session or setting a detailed brief, make it memorable by making it fun. Humour is a great way to learn and retain information by improving their ability to focus and concentrate. In addition, it activates the brain’s dopamine reward system, which stimulates goal-oriented motivation and long-term memory.

One experiment found that playing a funny video boosted adults’ short-term memory recall by an incredible 43.6.%. When facts and information are served with a side of hilarity, they’re going to stick in people’s minds.

6 Humour can make your company more attractive to employees and customers

Workplace humour doesn’t just begin and end with banter between the team, it can be part of a wider branding strategy. Whatever industry you work in – be it creative or corporate – being more humorous is appealing to prospective employees and customers.

Consider the tone of voice of all written company copy, like social media posts and website content. Injecting wit and humour into it will position your company as smart, funny, and great to work for.

91% of consumers prefer brands to be funny, but 95% of business leaders are afraid to use humour in customer interactions. Be bold and re-evaluate how to elicit some LOLs from your target audience. Think of the marketing power that one hilarious tweet that goes viral wields!

How to incorporate more humour in the workplace

Be funny…in the right ways

You don’t have to be a wise-cracking leader to reap the rewards of a working environment where humour flows freely, but you can strike the right notes.

Introducing more humour is not a green light to be offensive or tasteless. One study examined they types of humour that positively enhance relationships. The outcome was that self-enhancing or affiliate humour were the most beneficial, as opposed to self-defeating or aggressive humour styles.

Lead (and laugh) from example

To add more humour into your leadership style, it needs to be natural and not forced. Relax, and loosen up. See the funny side of things yourself – especially in those times of nail-biting stress.

When your team sees you laugh, it gives them permission to laugh as well. And believe, your employees want you to have a sense of humour; leaders that do are seen as 27% more motivating and admired than those who don’t joke around.

Use humour strategically and effectively

There is a time and a place to be funny, so choose it carefully. It can be a great motivator during meetings or to diffuse an uncomfortable situation or mood. Consider setting aside a window in the week for light-hearted team get-togethers (hello, Friday afternoons) where a fun chat can flow freely.

"A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done."

Dwight D. Eisenhower


• Companies that engage employees to induce happiness and financially outperform other companies by 19%.

• Humour at work reduces stress and improves employee wellbeing. Joking about a stressful situation creates dominance and control over it.

• We are 30 times more likely to laugh in company than we are on our own. Humour is a great way to strengthen employee bonds to improve communication and collaboration.

• When workplace meetings are filled with humour, it’s been shown to boost creativity, outside-the-box thinking and problem-solving.

• Humour of the self-enhancing kind has been shown to build resilience in employees, making them less likely to experience burnout.

• Humour supports learning and information retention by activating the brain’s dopamine reward system. It’s boosted adults’ short-term memory recall by 43.6%.

If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.