Do you take Humour to work? (PW – 19)

Personal Wellbeing Series - Article 19


In today’s fast-paced work environments, employee stress has become an increasingly prevalent issue. With demanding deadlines, high expectations, and the pressure to perform, many employees find themselves feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. As a result, organizations are recognizing the importance of employee wellbeing and are actively seeking ways to foster a positive and supportive workplace culture. One often overlooked yet powerful tool in promoting employee wellbeing is humour.

Humour has long been recognized for its ability to alleviate stress, improve mood, and foster social connections. In the workplace, a culture of humour can make a tremendous difference in employee morale and overall job satisfaction. By infusing humour into the work environment, managers can create a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, where employees feel valued, engaged, and motivated.

Moreover, humour has been shown to have numerous health benefits, both physical and psychological. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Additionally, humour can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health. From a psychological standpoint, humour can help employees cope with adversity, enhance resilience, and foster a positive outlook on life.

Incorporating humour into the workplace can also have a significant impact on employee relationships and team dynamics. Sharing a laugh with colleagues can strengthen social bonds, promote teamwork, and enhance communication. When employees feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing light-hearted moments with their co-workers, it can lead to greater trust, collaboration, and camaraderie.

Given the growing recognition of the importance of employee well-being, organizations are increasingly prioritizing initiatives that promote a healthy work-life balance and support mental health. A culture of humour aligns perfectly with these goals, offering a simple yet effective way to boost employee morale and promote psychological well-being. By creating an environment where humour is encouraged and celebrated, organizations can cultivate a positive workplace culture that attracts top talent, enhances employee engagement, and drives overall performance.

In the following sections, we will explore the benefits of humour in management and strategies for incorporating humour into the workplace. We will also examine real-life examples of organizations that have successfully embraced humour as a core component of their organizational culture. Through these insights, we will gain a deeper understanding of the transformative power of humour in promoting employee well-being and driving organizational success.

Benefits of Humour in Management:

Humour is not just about making people laugh; it has tangible benefits that can positively impact both employees and organizations as a whole. Here are some key benefits of incorporating humour into management practices:

Stress Reduction: One of the most significant benefits of humour in the workplace is its ability to reduce stress. In today’s fast-paced and high-pressure work environments, employees often experience high levels of stress, which can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Humour provides a natural antidote to stress by triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural stress relievers. When employees share a laugh or find humour in challenging situations, it helps them relax, unwind, and recharge, leading to improved mental well-being and resilience.

Enhanced Morale and Job Satisfaction: A culture of humour can significantly impact employee morale and job satisfaction. When employees feel comfortable expressing themselves, sharing jokes, and having fun at work, it creates a positive and enjoyable atmosphere that boosts morale and fosters a sense of belonging. Humour helps break down barriers between colleagues, promotes camaraderie, and strengthens team cohesion. Employees who feel valued, appreciated, and supported are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their work, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and retention.

Improved Communication and Collaboration: Humour can also enhance communication and collaboration within teams. When used appropriately, humour breaks down communication barriers, encourages open dialogue, and fosters a culture of transparency and trust. Humour helps create a relaxed and informal atmosphere where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas, providing feedback, and collaborating on projects. Additionally, sharing a laugh with colleagues helps build stronger social connections and strengthens relationships, leading to better teamwork and more effective collaboration.

Increased Creativity and Innovation: Humour stimulates creativity and innovation by encouraging employees to think outside the box and approach problems from different perspectives. When employees are relaxed and in a positive mood, they are more likely to generate creative ideas, brainstorm innovative solutions, and take risks. Humour fosters a culture of experimentation and playfulness, where employees feel empowered to explore new possibilities and challenge the status quo. By embracing humour, organizations can unlock the full creative potential of their teams and drive innovation across the board.

Enhanced Leadership and Influence: Humour is a powerful tool for leaders to connect with their teams, build rapport, and inspire others. Leaders who use humour effectively demonstrate authenticity, approachability, and emotional intelligence, which are essential qualities for effective leadership. Humour helps leaders communicate complex ideas in a way that is engaging and memorable, making it easier for employees to understand and connect with their vision and goals. Additionally, leaders who use humour to diffuse tension, manage conflict, and navigate challenging situations are more likely to earn the respect and admiration of their teams.

Overall, the benefits of humour in management are wide-ranging and profound. By embracing humour as a core component of their leadership style and organizational culture, managers can create a more positive, engaging, and productive work environment where employees thrive and organizations flourish.

Strategies for Incorporating Humour in Management:

While the benefits of humour in management are clear, integrating humour into leadership practices requires thoughtful consideration and strategic implementation. Here are some effective strategies for incorporating humour into management:

Lead by Example: Managers must lead by example and demonstrate a positive attitude and a willingness to embrace humour in the workplace. By using humour in their interactions with employees, managers set the tone for the entire organization and create permission for others to do the same. Authenticity is key; managers should be genuine and natural in their use of humour, ensuring that it aligns with their personality and leadership style.

Create a Safe and Supportive Environment: It’s essential to create a safe and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing humour without fear of judgment or reprisal. Managers should foster an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity and encourages creativity and innovation. By promoting open communication and mutual respect, managers can create a conducive environment for humour to thrive.

Know Your Audience: Effective use of humour requires an understanding of your audience and their preferences. Managers should be mindful of cultural sensitivities, individual personalities, and the context of the situation when using humour in the workplace. What may be funny to one person may not be to another, so it’s essential to tailor humour to the specific audience and situation.

Use Humour to Break the Ice: Humour can be an effective tool for breaking the ice and diffusing tension in challenging situations. Managers can use humour to lighten the mood, create a sense of camaraderie, and build rapport with their teams. Whether it’s cracking a joke during a team meeting or sharing a funny anecdote during a stressful project, humour can help alleviate stress and foster a more positive and productive work environment.

Encourage Playfulness and Creativity: Managers should encourage playfulness and creativity in the workplace by creating opportunities for employees to have fun and express themselves. This could include organizing team-building activities, hosting social events, or incorporating playful elements into daily work routines. By fostering a culture of playfulness and creativity, managers can stimulate innovation, boost morale, and enhance employee engagement.

Use Humour to Provide Feedback: Humour can be an effective tool for providing feedback and addressing performance issues in a constructive and non-threatening way. Managers can use humour to deliver difficult messages with empathy and sensitivity, making feedback more palatable and easier to digest. By framing feedback in a humorous and light-hearted manner, managers can reduce defensiveness and encourage open dialogue and self-reflection.

Embrace Spontaneity and Flexibility: While it’s essential to plan and prepare for the use of humour in management, it’s also important to embrace spontaneity and flexibility. Some of the best moments of humour arise organically in response to unexpected situations or events. Managers should be open to seizing these opportunities and leveraging them to create memorable and meaningful experiences for their teams.

By incorporating these strategies into their management practices, leaders can harness the power of humour to create a more positive, engaging, and productive work environment where employees thrive and organizations succeed.

Real-Life Examples of Humour in Management:

Numerous organizations have successfully integrated humour into their management practices, reaping the benefits of a more positive and engaging workplace culture. Here are some anecdotes and real-life examples of how humour has been used effectively in management:

A few anecdotes that reflect how Humour has had an impact on workplace situations.

The Icebreaker: During a particularly tense team meeting, a manager noticed that everyone seemed on edge and reluctant to speak up. Sensing the need to break the ice, he decided to inject some humour into the situation. He began the meeting by sharing a light-hearted joke, which immediately elicited laughter from the team. The tension dissipated, and the team members felt more at ease expressing their thoughts and ideas. The manager’s use of humour helped to create a more relaxed and open atmosphere, allowing for more productive discussions and problem-solving.

The Office Prank: In an effort to boost team morale and lighten the mood, a group of colleagues decided to play a harmless prank on their boss. They carefully replaced all of his office supplies with miniature versions, including a tiny stapler, a miniature coffee mug, and a pint-sized desk chair. When the boss returned to his office and discovered the prank, he couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of his shrunken workspace. Instead of getting upset, he appreciated the creativity and humour behind the prank. The incident served as a bonding experience for the team, strengthening their camaraderie and sense of connection.

The Email Mishap: In a busy office environment, miscommunications are bound to happen from time to time. One day, an employee accidentally sent out an email to the entire company with an embarrassing typo in the subject line. Instead of panicking or trying to cover up the mistake, the employee quickly owned up to it and sent out a follow-up email with a humorous apology. The light-hearted approach diffused any tension and turned the incident into a source of amusement for the entire team. The employee’s willingness to laugh at themselves and make light of the situation helped to foster a culture of forgiveness and understanding in the workplace.

The Virtual Team Building Activity: With many teams working remotely, finding ways to connect and bond can be challenging. In an effort to boost team morale and foster a sense of community, a manager organized a virtual team building activity centered around humour. Each team member was tasked with sharing a funny story or joke during a video conference call. The activity brought much-needed laughter and levity to the virtual meeting, helping team members feel more connected despite being physically apart. The shared laughter served as a reminder of the importance of finding joy and humour in everyday moments, even during challenging times.

The Office Mascot: In an attempt to inject some fun into the office environment, a team decided to adopt a quirky office mascot—a rubber chicken affectionately named “Cluck Norris.” Whenever tensions began to rise or stress levels escalated, team members would pass around Cluck Norris, using it as a playful prop to lighten the mood. The sight of the absurd rubber chicken never failed to elicit laughter and smiles from everyone in the office. Over time, Cluck Norris became a beloved symbol of camaraderie and humour in the workplace, reminding team members not to take themselves too seriously and to embrace the lighter side of work.

Examples of Organisations imbibing Humour

Google: Known for its innovative and playful work culture, Google is renowned for incorporating humour into its management practices. From quirky office designs to humorous company policies, Google fosters a fun and creative environment where employees feel encouraged to express themselves authentically. For example, the company’s “April Fools’ Day” pranks are legendary, showcasing its commitment to creativity and humour.

Zappos: The online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos is another organization that values humour as a fundamental aspect of its corporate culture. CEO Tony Hsieh is known for his lighthearted and humorous approach to leadership, often incorporating humour into his communications with employees. Zappos encourages employees to embrace their unique personalities and sense of humour, creating a vibrant and inclusive workplace culture.

Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines is well-known for its humorous and customer-centric approach to service. From playful flight attendants to humorous in-flight announcements, Southwest infuses humour into every aspect of the customer experience. By incorporating humour into its management practices, Southwest has created a distinctive brand identity and a loyal customer following.

The Onion: The satirical news organization The Onion is a master of using humour to engage and entertain its audience. Through its witty and irreverent articles, The Onion provides social commentary on current events and cultural trends, using humour as a tool for insight and reflection. By leveraging humour in its management practices, The Onion has built a strong brand presence and a dedicated fan base.

Netflix: The streaming giant Netflix has cultivated a culture of candor and transparency, where humour plays a central role. CEO Reed Hastings is known for his humorous and unfiltered communication style, often using humour to address challenging topics and spark dialogue. Netflix encourages employees to embrace humour as a way to foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation.

These examples illustrate how humour can be effectively integrated into management practices to create a more positive and engaging workplace culture. By embracing humour, organizations can enhance employee morale, foster creativity and innovation, and strengthen employee engagement and loyalty.

Overcoming Challenges and Pitfalls

Incorporating humour into management practices can yield numerous benefits, but it’s not without its challenges and potential pitfalls. One common challenge is ensuring that humour is inclusive and appropriate for all members of the team. What may be funny to one person could be offensive or off-putting to another, so managers must be mindful of cultural sensitivities, personal boundaries, and the overall dynamics of the team.

Another challenge is striking the right balance between humour and professionalism. While humour can help to foster a more relaxed and enjoyable work environment, it’s important not to let it overshadow the seriousness of the tasks at hand. Managers must be able to gauge when it’s appropriate to inject humour into a situation and when a more serious tone is required.

Additionally, there’s the risk of humour being misinterpreted or taken out of context, leading to misunderstandings or conflicts within the team. Managers must be careful to communicate clearly and ensure that their intentions are understood when using humour in the workplace.

One way to overcome these challenges is by setting clear guidelines and expectations around the use of humour in the workplace. By establishing ground rules and fostering open communication, managers can create a safe and supportive environment where team members feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgment or reprisal.

Another strategy is to lead by example and demonstrate a positive and light-hearted attitude in your own interactions with team members. By showing that it’s okay to laugh and have fun at work, managers can help to create a culture where humour is valued and encouraged.

Finally, it’s important for managers to be receptive to feedback from team members and be willing to adjust their approach as needed. If certain jokes or types of humour are not resonating with the team or are causing discomfort, it’s essential to listen to these concerns and make appropriate changes.

By navigating these challenges thoughtfully and proactively, managers can harness the power of humour to create a more engaging, collaborative, and enjoyable work environment for everyone.

The Humour Facilitator

Bringing in an external humour facilitator can significantly enhance an organization’s ability to incorporate humour into management practices effectively. Humour facilitators specialize in harnessing the power of humour to improve workplace culture, communication, and employee well-being. Here are several reasons why organizations may benefit from engaging a humour facilitator:

Expertise and Specialized Knowledge: Humour facilitators bring a wealth of expertise and specialized knowledge in the field of humour and its applications in the workplace. With their background and training, they can offer insights, strategies, and best practices for leveraging humour effectively within organizational settings.

Objective Perspective: An external humour facilitator can provide an objective perspective on the organization’s culture, dynamics, and communication practices. They can assess the current state of humour within the organization and offer unbiased feedback and recommendations for improvement.

Creative Approach: Humour facilitators are adept at thinking creatively and innovatively about how to incorporate humour into management practices. They can help organizations brainstorm new ideas and approaches for using humour to enhance employee engagement, morale, and productivity.

Customization and Tailoring: Humour facilitators can tailor their recommendations and interventions to meet the specific needs and challenges of the organization. They can develop customized humour programs, workshops, or training sessions designed to address the organization’s unique goals and objectives.

Training and Development Opportunities: Humour facilitators can provide training and development opportunities for managers and employees to improve their humour skills and confidence. They may offer workshops on using humour effectively in communication, managing stress with humour, or cultivating a positive and playful work environment.

Accountability and Measurement: By engaging a humour facilitator, organizations can hold themselves accountable for implementing humour initiatives and measuring their impact. Humour facilitators can help organizations set goals, track progress, and evaluate the effectiveness of their humour strategies over time.

Team Building and Cohesion: Humour facilitators can facilitate team-building activities and exercises that promote camaraderie, collaboration, and cohesion among employees. By fostering a sense of humour and camaraderie, humour facilitators can strengthen relationships and create a more enjoyable and productive work environment.

Overall, bringing in an external humour facilitator can be a strategic investment for organizations looking to create a more positive, engaging, and supportive workplace culture. With their expertise, creativity, and tailored approach, humour facilitators can help organizations leverage the power of humour to enhance employee well-being and organizational success.

Profile of a Humour facilitator

A successful humour facilitator should possess a diverse set of skills, experiences, and personal qualities to effectively engage and inspire others in the workplace. First and foremost, they should have a genuine passion for humour and its potential to positively impact organizational culture and employee well-being.

Ideally, a humour facilitator should have a blend of age and experience that commands respect and credibility among their audience. While youthfulness can bring energy and enthusiasm to their presentations, experience provides wisdom and insight into navigating workplace dynamics.

A background in acting or public speaking can be beneficial, as it equips the humour facilitator with the skills to engage and captivate audiences effectively. They should be charismatic, dynamic, and able to command attention while delivering their message with authenticity and sincerity.

Additionally, a successful humour facilitator should possess a natural ability to connect with people and build rapport quickly. They should be approachable, empathetic, and able to create a safe and supportive environment where participants feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Above all, a humour facilitator should lead by example, embodying the principles of humour, positivity, and resilience in their own life. They should be seen as an inspiring role model who practices what they preach, demonstrating how humour can be used to overcome challenges, build relationships, and foster a thriving workplace culture.


In conclusion, the importance of humour in management cannot be overstated. As organizations navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, fostering a culture of humour can make a tremendous difference in employee well-being, morale, and productivity. By incorporating humour into management practices, leaders can create a more positive and engaging work environment where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to succeed.

Throughout this article, we’ve explored the various benefits of humour in management, including its ability to reduce stress, enhance communication, foster creativity, and strengthen team cohesion. Humour has been shown to boost employee morale, improve job satisfaction, and increase overall organizational effectiveness.

Moreover, we’ve discussed strategies for incorporating humour into management, such as leading by example, encouraging open communication, and creating opportunities for shared laughter and camaraderie. Real-life examples have highlighted how humour can be effectively used to diffuse tension, build rapport, and strengthen relationships among colleagues.

However, it’s essential to recognize that incorporating humour into management is not without its challenges and pitfalls. Leaders must be mindful of the cultural and individual differences within their teams and ensure that humour is used appropriately and inclusively. Additionally, humour should never be used to demean, belittle, or offend others, and leaders must be sensitive to the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of their employees.

Looking ahead, organizations may consider bringing in external humour facilitators to help cultivate a culture of humour and positivity within their teams. These facilitators can provide valuable insights, techniques, and strategies for incorporating humour into management practices and overcoming common challenges.

In conclusion, humour has the power to transform the workplace and elevate organizational performance. By embracing humour as a management tool, leaders can create a more enjoyable, engaging, and productive work environment where employees thrive and succeed.

What Next

As organizations strive to enhance employee well-being and drive performance, incorporating humour into management practices can be a game-changer. I encourage leaders to take proactive steps to foster a culture of humour within their teams and explore opportunities to leverage humour as a strategic tool for success.

Whether it’s through training programs, team-building exercises, or external facilitators, investing in humour can yield significant returns in terms of employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity. Let’s embrace the power of humour and create workplaces where laughter is not only welcomed but celebrated as a catalyst for positive change.

Ajay Mahajan

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