Workplace Wellness: Humor at Work
Life is difficult—that's a fact. But do you know what can help make serious situations easier? Humor and laughter! It's worth taking humor seriously at work—even (or especially) in hard times.
Here are three scientifically-backed reasons why a little humor goes a long way towards greater happiness at work— increasing engagement and productivity.
1. Bust That Stress!
The average American working adult spends about 1/3 (around 90,000 hours) of their life at work. Throughout this period, we all experience stress. Let me stress (pun intended) that not all of it is bad. Stress = energy. Whether it becomes positive or negative energy depends partly on our response to it. In a worst-case scenario, chronic work-related stress can lead to physical illness and mental health challenges.
However, there are many strategies to help stave off and soothe stress. You can increase physical activity, befriend your stress, and/or connect with others for support. You can also use humor as a quick and easy way to bust some stress! Laughter (in response to positive humor) can reduce your blood pressure and calm down your stress hormones. Laugh a little, live a lot longer!
2. Signal Competence and Confidence
Do you roll your eyes and groan when a colleague tries to insert a joke into a conversation? In my case, I'm typically the instigator of silliness! My jokes aren’t always spot-on, but I love lightening the mood at work, especially when everyone's stressed out. Fortunately, according to this article in the Harvard Business Review, telling less-than-hilarious jokes "as long as they are appropriate—won’t harm your social standing or affect how competent people think you are. They may even increase how confident you seem."
Let me emphasize though that a less-than-hilarious joke is different from an inappropriate one. While an unfunny joke may fail to elicit a lot of laughs, an inappropriate joke can lead someone to be perceived as less competent within their organization. So, keep jokes clean and appropriate, folks!
3. Improve Work Cohesiveness
"Cohesiveness? Can't you just say teamwork?" Work cohesiveness and teamwork are similar, in the sense that both involve teams working to achieve a common goal. The main difference is that when teams are working cohesively, everyone does all they can to contribute to the overall success of the group, focusing on team success rather than individual recognition.
Humor improves work cohesiveness as it helps boost morale and build trust in organizations. I remember how timid and uneasy I felt at first when I joined Happy Brain Science in 2017. Then the silliness, mutual laughter, and Scott's "dad jokes" made it possible to be more authentic with one another! When times are tough, that team cohesiveness will help you find ways to resolve issues together.
Positive humor can help refresh our brains to boost creativity, thereby improving our personal and team well-being. In difficult times, it can even increase the effectiveness of our coping efforts, while decreasing burnout and withdrawal. What other advantages do you see?
About the Author
Cathy Jimenez, Speaker & Happiness Coordinator
Cathy is an experienced presenter and facilitator to clients such as Intel, Boeing, and Universal Studios Group to name a few, Cathy presents Happy Brain Science sessions in Asia and around the world.
With almost 20 years of experience in software development, project/people/customer support management, she has found joy in applying her strengths for Happy Brain Science. She loves to help out people and teams by understanding their needs and working with them to get to a unique solution that is a win for everyone concerned.
Truly a busy bee, she also works as a freelance operations lead aside from being a wife to her husband, and a mom of two highly energetic young men. She lives in the beautiful island of Cebu, Philippines.