Transform Your Company’s View of Humor to Maximize Positivity and Productivity

What is your company’s perception of humor in the workplace? Is it discouraged or embraced? It could be, “At our company, we value a sense of humor.” You may have a preconceived notion of your personal sense of humor. However, it’s crucial to develop an awareness of how to move from restraining humor to benefiting from it. This will allow your company to thrive on the energy that comes from a lighter but still productive culture.

In a study of about 2,700 employees in a range of workplace settings over two years, the Bell Leadership Institute found that a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor were the two most desirable traits in leaders. The results reveal that people appreciate leaders who have fun while working hard to get the job done.

“Those who can combine a strong work ethic and sense of humor may have the leading edge in their organizations,” says Dr. Gerald D. Bell, the founder and CEO of Bell Leadership Institute.

Also studied were the specific ways in which senior managers use humor to improve performance.

The most effective leaders use humor in the following positive ways:

  • Creating enthusiasm
  • Conveying an honest message in a pleasant manner
  • Increasing productivity
  • Comforting people
  • Bringing teams together
  • Seeing a situation in a more positive light

Conversely, less effective leaders use humor in the following negative ways:

  • Bragging about themselves
  • Bringing people down with sarcasm
  • Overly diverting people from the task at hand

Humorous leaders find their own happiness is mirrored through their use of humor. Most importantly, their attitude shows it, too. It is difficult to promote your employees’ personal growth if you’re not feeling energized or excited about your own work.

When you use humor, you reinforce your leadership by reducing stress and improving communication. As a leader, your use of humor sets the tone that you are an ordinary person like everyone else on your team. Shared positive humor is an effective way of supporting teamwork, which requires openness and trust for discussing difficult issues.

Make Humor a Valued Part of Your Work Culture

So, how can you encourage others in their practice of humor? You can do this by introducing simple adjustments to your management style:

  • Set an example by not taking yourself too seriously. Laugh at your own small mistakes.
  • Bring laughter into your meetings. Start a meeting off with a funny YouTube video or silly quote.
  • Design a work environment that promotes creativity. Get a huge whiteboard or paint a chalkboard wall to encourage doodling and sharing funny quotes or pictures.
  • Reward your employees with humorous gifts outside of the workplace. Host a group outing with discounted tickets to all go see a local comedian. Hold random drawings, or offer the tickets to acknowledge outstanding performance.
  • Bring entertainment to the workplace.