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Why Laughter Is Good For Workplace Mental Health

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February 10, 2021

laughter in the workplace

Work is seldom a place for humour. When you’re problem-solving or staring at a magnitude of spreadsheets it’s hard to find the space to throw a joke in the mix. Workplaces are a hybrid of many personalities; where some understand your humour, and others may not which fosters the need to tone humour down. However, taking humour in the workplace seriously can be fruitful to our career progression as well as our mental health and wellbeing.

Why is Laughter Good in The Workplace?

Leaders in the workplace who joke around have shown to be 27% more admired and motivating by their employees than those who don’t. Research shows managers who have adopted this style result in 15% more engaged teams, with their employees twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge. Workplaces that encourage individuals to be themselves or adopt a non-hierarchical approach are more likely to retain talented employees strong in problem solving and performance. 

Humour in the workplace, (done in the right way) can act as fertile ground to an increase in performance and staff happiness. Furthermore, the use of a dad joke at the end of a sales pitch is 18% more likely to help increase customer satisfaction and seal the deal.

laughter in the workplace

Why Is Humour An Effective Method?

When laughter is shared between colleagues, friends, family or any person to person interaction, we share an intimate bond and feelings of trust. This rings true in romantic relationships too. It is known that couples who reminisce over funny moments together have a greater sense of intimacy than those who don’t. 

The science of laughter is a chemical reaction. Naturally, as we laugh our brains produce less cortisol, which leads to a reduction in stress, resulting in a sense of calm. More endorphins and oxytocin are released (often referred to as the love hormone), which comparatively gives us the same feeling as meditation, exercise and sex. (Although perhaps you won’t want to associate that with anyone at work.) However, the aforementioned ‘good highs’ are all foolproof and HR approved. 

How to Inject Humour At Work

In the same way we have interests, humour is very much a personal attribute. We all have our own views on what we consider to be ‘funny’, be it a joke or a TV show. Laughing at work does require employees to read the room and understand their audience. As a leader or a HR professional, it is important to think, if it’s the kind of joke you’d only likely send in a group chat with close friends, consider if it’s something to share with colleagues or employees before doing so. Leaders and HR professionals do and will set the tone for humour in a workplace because it depends entirely on the culture. 

Get Familiar With Your Humour Style (And Others’) 

There are a number of humour styles that we all fall into. These include:

  • Stand-Up – Bold and unafraid
  • Sweetheart – Lighthearted
  • Sniper – Sarcastic and subtle
  • Magnet – Expressive and easy to make laugh

Employees are much more comfortable sharing humorous conversation with a colleague over their manager and more likely to share a joke with someone who understands their style. Naturally, we aren’t sure if our manager might take offence. It is really important to understand someone’s humour style and to read the room before sharing a joke with others.

Some leaders, those that are introverted, might struggle to encourage laughter in the workplace. You don’t need to be a stand-up comedian, however, aptly timed humour can in fact enhance someone’s career. 

laughter in the workplace

Start with a few simple attempts through observations and provide an unusual take on something you have seen. These might be small things you’ve noticed about yourself recently or something you can all relate to, such as, what you do once a Zoom call ends. With humour and laughter it is important to keep it as organic as possible. 

HR managers could include humorous lines on future job descriptions, when delivering company policy updates or to sign off internal emails. Corporate or pressure cooker environments might mitigate the ability to be humorous but it can help individual’s with their productivity and overall well-being. 

How Does Laughter Help Workplace Mental Health?

2020 (and 2021) have been extremely tough on our wellbeing, and at times, our sanity. Whilst humour in the workplace doesn’t (and shouldn’t) deter away the severity of the situation around us, laughter can be the healthy release we all need. Laughter is a basic human physical reaction, and if we remove this from the workplace, does that remove humanity too? Perhaps so. Humanity allows for funny mistakes to be made and these are welcome in the workplace just as much as they are elsewhere. Particularly during trying times when life outside of work is quite bleak and mundane. 

Laughter can help in preventing risks, especially once each others’ styles are established.  Some may see self-depreciation as a form of humour which may undermine their abilities at work whilst stand-ups could unintentionally offend their peers. 

Remember the healthy feel-good hormones we mentioned laughing releases? Humour is known to be a stress buster, both emotionally and physically. The cognitive shift we feel when we laugh helps us to relax. 

A lot of us might refrain from showing our colleagues our true selves for fear of looking unprofessional. However effective humour can often reveal our authentic selves for the greater good. Those who display a humorous side tend to be more trustworthy, and are known to help break the ice which helps build relationships in the workplace. The more honest and open leaders are, the more approachable they are perceived. This helps with innovation as well as employees talking about personal issues concerning their wellbeing.

laughter in the workplace

Workplace morale is known to increase when humour is present. Furthermore employees are less likely to search elsewhere for a new job. A job defines our role in society however this shouldn’t feel like enslavement and employees respect and admire environments where they can have an element of fun too. 

A jovial atmosphere in the workplace creates an upbeat environment. It allows individuals to express ideas they might have or show their passion for what they do leading to increased productivity. Work enthusiasm increases if employees believe their voice matters, furthermore this approach is contagious to new and current employees.  

Takeaways 

Don’t worry about trying to be funny, chances are employees would appreciate any kind of levity during their working day. Not only does this foster an environment for employees to do the same, it also breaks the ice and creates a happy work culture. 

Laughter and humour can be learnt; it can evolve, and it is something leaders can integrate into the workplace if taken seriously. To not only boost overall performance and career progression but to foster a happy workplace.

Everymind at work is on a mission to normalise the conversation around mental health through the use of technology. The Everymind app is designed to be available to your employees at their fingertips. For more information, take a look at our demo.

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