There are 168 hours in a week. If we average 7 hours of sleep per night, we spend 49 of them sleeping. This leaves 119 hours per week that we are awake, and 40 of them are at work. This means the hours spent at the office roughly account for one-third of our everyday life. Shouldn’t we try to make one-third of our adult life more enjoyable?
hey say laughter is the best medicine, as science has long ago proved the benefits of laughter for both physical and mental health. But what about laughter in a business setting? What kind of humor is “acceptable” at work? How do we define humor within a workplace environment?
Our classes teach us the skills we need to do a job, but no one really teaches you the skills that you need to enjoy that job
– Andrew Tarvin, CEO of Humor That Works.
The health benefits of humor
|Physical health benefits
|Mental health benefits
|Adds joy to life
|Lowers stress hormones
|Enhances heart health and lowers blood pressure
|Relieves stress and anxiety
|Relaxes your muscles
When we laugh our brains release a cocktail of hormones. We release endorphins, giving us a similar feeling to a runner’s high, we lower our cortisol making us feel calmer and we release dopamine -the same hormone released during sex- making us feel more bonded. So, in essence, as far as our brains are concerned, laughing is like exercising meditating and having sex at the same time
…say Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, authors of the book Humor, Seriously.
The advantages of humor in the workplace
Νeuroscientist and award-winning author, Friederike Fabritius, recently argued that especially the current times of stress and uncertainty amid a pandemic is exactly the moment to make a lot of jokes and to have a lot of fun because we need to lift each other up.
The moment we have fun and laugh together, the brain releases dopamine, and dopamine is a real brain booster. It makes you more innovative, it makes you think faster, and it helps you to learn better; it is basically a boost for your brain. So, send this funny joke to your colleague, make a funny joke in your video conference and everybody is going to feel much better and work better as a result
Research has identified, among others, the following benefits of using humor at work:
- Improves communication: Delivering a message with humor (e.g., during a presentation) makes it more likely to land and more likely for the recipients to remember it.
- Improves team cohesion: Positive sounds such as laughter can trigger a response in the listener’s brain, helping interaction and improving connection, says a 2006 article in The Journal of Neuroscience.
- Reduces stress: Lowering cortisol and increasing endorphins in the brain, humor can help us combat stress and increase both physical and mental health.
- Reduces conflicts: A well-timed joke can ease a tense situation and help us resolve disagreements.
-For business leaders
- Humanizes your workplace: Humor lightens the overall mood, branding your company as a likable, nice, great place to work, which can help you attract better talent.
- Improves decision-making: Positive moods enable more flexible decision-making and analytic precision.
- Better perceived leader image: In a recent survey presented by Aaker and Bagdonas, people were asked “What traits inspire trust in a leader?” and one of the top responses were “Speaks like a regular person”.
How can I integrate humor at work?
- Memes are your friends: Scrolling down on social media is an integral part of millennials’ lives. Sharing the memes, videos, photos, and quotes that you find funny with your colleagues can help build a special bonding based on common taste and humor aesthetics. Plus, finding some funny content in your office inbox when turning your computer on can make your day.
- Engage in team games: There are several games that can act as quick and light breaks in the working day, such as quizzes or, for the more organized, cornhole tournaments. Non-competitive games, such as Never Have I Ever or Two truths And A Lie can both lighten the mood and be bonding.
- Include humor in your presentation: A fundamental tip for successful public speaking is to start your talk with a joke, as this relieves any tension and stress while attracting the attention of your audience. The same can apply when starting an early Monday meeting. Play a funny video before your presentation and try to observe the change in the overall mood of the team.
Humor at work: Don’t go too far
- Avoid jokes about sensitive personal data, such as sex, age, religion, or jokes that reproduce stereotypes and prejudices.
- Watch out if your joke can be considered mocking or discrediting the opposite side.
- Sense your colleagues’ tone and mood; maybe it is not the right time to be humorous at all if the others are in the middle of a stressful situation.