Putting Humour to Work


It’s April Fool’s Day tomorrow, and as office pranksters prepare for the big day, it’s an ideal time to address the role humour plays at work.

Humour in the office can be a touchy subject. After all, if we were supposed to be having fun in the office all the time, it wouldn’t be called work, right? Wrong. Cultivating your organization’s collective funny bone isn’t just a way to goof off at work—it also has big business advantages. Humour relieves stress, increases engagement, decreases absenteeism, builds trust, defuses conflict, and helps constructive feedback go down smoothly.

Need more convincing? Here are 30 research-backed benefits of incorporating humour at work.

But there’s a right and wrong way to tap into the humour advantage. Here’s how to think beyond saran-wrapped toilet seats while upping your comedy quotient.

Hire for humour. If you want to encourage fun in the workplace, start with your recruitment process. Showcase your workplace as a fun place to work by injecting energy into your job posting and interview process. Include phrases like “great sense of humour” or “likes to laugh and have fun” at the end of your job requirements section. Avoid coming across as overly scripted and stiff in interviews by encouraging a conversation-like flow that incorporates light-hearted remarks and safe jokes.

Give the green light. Give employees permission to have fun at work by showing them how it’s done. Share a funny anecdote, create a board for employees to post comics on, include a jokes section in your newsletter, incorporate silly icebreaker activities before meetings, or add a funny one-liner to company-wide emails.

The right kind of #humour at work relieves stress, increases engagement, & defuses conflict.

Host special events. Give employees something to look forward to by organizing occasions to laugh together. Plan an annual talent show where employees can hone their stand-up comedy or air band skills. Have themed dress-up days with prizes for the best costume. Rehearse a dance performance as a team and upload a hilarious video.

Develop creativity. Focusing on outside-the-box thinking as a team is a natural way to get people laughing and having fun at work. Creative employees get emotionally invested, develop new ways to tackle old problems, and are more productive at work. Encourage creative thinking by hosting a facilitated creativity workshop that incorporates lessons on integrating fun and humour in the workplace.

Know your audience. Humour can be a great tool to lift moods and ease tense situations, but successfully being funny at work requires some finesse. Set some parameters to ensure jokes hit the mark (and don’t result in legal action). Time office humour appropriately, don’t force it, and know when to stop. Follow the guidelines in your code of conduct, and make sure everyone knows that jokes that discriminate, target an individual, or are otherwise offensive or distasteful won’t fly.

Your Engaged Assignment: Practice makes perfect. Well placed humour can be a key to success, but if your organization has a long history of associating professionalism with being sombre and serious, lightening the mood can take some time and practice. Take baby steps to incorporate fun and brighten your company culture. Need some ideas to get started? Take a peek at these out these 101 ways to foster humour at work.