Connected Leadership: Humor at Work

Make Humor a Part of the Job

Workplace humor has countless benefits. Forbes published an article that includes some major benefits to workplace humor. This list is certainly not all-inclusive, but we’ve included some of those here:

  • People will enjoy working with you. With how much time we spend at work, humor can help us stay positive and pleasant during the longer hours. Authentic humor is a great way to win friends and influence people.
  • Humor is a major stress buster. It offers a mental shift in how you view personal stressors; an emotional response; and a physical response that relaxes you when you laugh.
  • Humor humanizes. Humor helps leaders and team members to come together. When team members can have humorous interactions with their leaders, it helps establish your authenticity. Authentic leaders are able to instill empathy in their teams.
  • It puts others at ease. Humor is an excellent way to break through tension. Laughter in response to a conflict can help you shift from convergent thinking where you only see one solution, to divergent thinking where multiple ideas are considered.
  • Humor is a key ingredient in creative thinking. Humor and creativity are both about looking at your challenges in novel ways and about making new connections you’ve never thought about before. It establishes a safe environment for innovation.
  • It helps build trust and makes you more approachable. Some studies suggest that people who share a healthy, positive sense of humor are viewed as being more trustworthy. Your approachability will lead to more openness and honesty from team members. This leads to more successful and innovative teams.
  • Humor boosts morale. Humor can be a catalyst in inspiring team members to look forward to coming to work. People like to work for and with others who have a sense of humor. We all prefer to have fun at work.
  • It can increase productivity. Humor creates an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, and a feeling that there are few risks in thinking outside the box. It also stands to reason that if you’re in a more jovial atmosphere, you’ll have more passion for what you do.

A workplace that embraces humor and laughter is one that also encourages creativity, authenticity, and psychological safety that allows people to perform their best. An important thing to note is that humor does not always equate to just telling jokes. We’ve all tried to tell a joke to a co-worker that didn’t land the way we intended, but don’t be discouraged. Humor is an opportunity to address truths in the workplace and our lives, and give a window into our humanity.

Honest, authentic humor can be manifested in a variety of ways. It’s okay to laugh at yourself, or to have a light-hearted approach to worrisome aspects of work – it helps to signal that everything is okay. Lead by example with humor, making it clear that jokes about race, ethnicity, gender or other immutable differences made at the expense of others are not appropriate. Wellpath leaders make an effort to emphasize the power of humor to unite, include, and inspire team members to be their best selves at work.

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Connected Leadership is Wellpath’s ongoing leadership education series published by Ann Hatcher, Wellpath’s Chief Human Resources Officer

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