Some people think that you shouldn’t have fun at work, that this is a very serious business. Our advice to them: Lighten Up. There’s a reason why Google has a giant waterslide on its main campus or that tons of companies have ping pong tables, video games or free popcorn to eat while watching movies on the giant screen at work. That’s because the management at these well-respected firms have figured out that employees who work hard like to play hard too.
But besides being fun humour is actually good for you at work. Here are some good reasons why.
1. Humour reduces Stress
Workplaces that encourage humour often also promote employee creativity and improve communications. This translates into improved employee wellness that helps reduce stress and burnout. An organization that encourages humour and shows that it doesn’t take itself too seriously ensures better employee relations and teamwork and it eliminates fear, one of the biggest stress-producers at work and within society.
2. Humour improves Productivity
Better cooperation between employees and teams almost automatically improves productivity but humour also creates the space for employees to challenge and change old habits and obsolete procedures. It can help create a culture where we laugh at our mistakes and learn from them rather than yelling at each other and it gives people the feeling of more control over their workplace. When they feel more comfortable and safe they work harder, faster and more productively.
3. Humour improves Physical Health
Humour improves our physical health by releasing toxins and stress just through the act of relaxation. Just as it impossible to speak and listen at the same time, it is also difficult to stay stressed out while you are laughing. Laughter also increases immune cells and improves your resistance to disease. And it triggers the release of endorphins which make you feel better and can even remove pain. Finally it has been shown that humour and laughter increases blood flow which prevents you against heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.
4. Humour improves Mental Health
Not only can humour help your physical health but it can also do wonders for your mental and emotional well-being as well. Humour does that by dissipating negative or distressing emotions because you can’t feel two emotions at the same time. It’s hard to stay sad or continue being angry when someone or something makes you laugh. It also lets you shift your perspective so that you don’t feel as overwhelmed as you might be and gives you new energy to fight through or fight back.
5. Humour can Make you More Successful at Work
Many experts believe that humour is a key element to being successful at work. A Robert Half International study quoted in Forbes magazine found that 91% of executives believe a sense of humour is important for career advancement; while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humour do a better job. They also quote another study by the Bell Leadership Institute that found that the two most desirable traits in leaders were a strong work ethic and a good sense of humour. Let’s face it who would you like to be your boss? Someone who is strict and grumpy or someone who can see the humour in even your worst mistakes?
6. Humour can Make you Easier to Work With
Even amongst your co-workers there’s no question that it’s easier to get along with someone with a sense of humour. That’s because using humour will often put the other person at ease and make them more comfortable to work alongside. It can break the tension in a stressful situation can even lead to creating better solutions and synergies in teams because it lets new ideas come in. Humour can also help by building trust between people in the workplace and there are even studies that show that people with a sense of humour tend to be both more likeable and are viewed as being more trustworthy by their peers.
Humour can be a valuable tool in your workplace arsenal but only if you practice and use it often. Your humour will have to be tasteful and non-discriminatory to be successful and be careful never to cross that invisible line that makes you a fool versus a funny gal or guy.
But if you want, you can forget about humour and having fun at work. You could be like the people in this quote by comedian Drew Carey. “Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”
Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
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