Contrary to the belief of a few people I’ve worked for, ‘work’ and ‘fun’ are not diametrically opposing concepts. Work can be fun. In fact, work should be fun – at least some of the time.
If you’re of the ‘it’s called work for a reason’ school of thought, you might not be convinced by this claim. However, there are a number of reasons why bringing humour into the workplace benefits everyone.
For a start, the health benefits of laughter are well–documented. Laughter can increase your heart rate, boost your immune system, and relieve stress. Essentially, the more your team laughs, the healthier and happier they’ll be.
On top of that, there’s evidence to suggest that workplace humour can be key to success. A survey by Robert Half International found that 91% of executives believe that a sense of humour is important for career advancement, while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humour do a better job.
If that doesn’t compel you, consider this: researchers from the Peru Catholic University and the University of New Hampshire have found that humour can help to boost effective communication, development of group goals, group productivity and management of emotions.
Of course, there’s a line to consider when bringing humour and fun into the workplace – that is, the sense of humour you might employ when with your friends and family may well not be appropriate for the workplace. According to Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do at Work and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast:
“Humour, by its nature, tends to have an edge to it, so people typically tone it down at work. It’s hard to do well, and easy to do badly.”
Ultimately, while having fun and employing at humour at work can be beneficial, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Everything in moderation: Jokes are great, but you’re at work, not open mic night. If your jokes are flying thick and fast and causing your team to be distracted, you need to dial it back
- Steer clear of polarising topics: As my mother always told me, one should never discuss politics or religion in polite company
- Don’t single people out: It’s fine to gently rib someone in your team about how pedantic they are about their coffee, or their love of Post-Its, but gentle teasing can turn into bullying pretty quickly
- Be respectful: It seems absurd to need to point this out in 2016, but don’t joke about race, gender, sexuality, disability, or physical appearance
- Be smart: In a lot of workplaces, making fun of management is a quick and easy way to get a laugh from colleagues, but resist the temptation – it’s a fast track to a meeting with HR
Very bad advice from The Office’s Michael Scott. Source: NBC / Via imgarcade.com
There are few things more miserable than a humourless working environment. By encouraging fun and humour in your team, you’re boosting morale, improving communication and strengthening the bonds between team members.
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