Humour In the workplace

in Features

Navigating our way through the working day can prove challenging, even if we enjoy our jobs and have a positive relationship with colleagues.

The one factor that can play a huge part in making our work life less stressful and more fun is humour.

As in practically all life situations, a little fun, an ability to chuckle at a potentially tricky moment can make a significant difference to how we cope with it and how the rest of our day plays out.

Feeling unsettled at work can result in a productivity slump so it is important we experience more fun in the workplace. 

The office may have traditionally been seen as a serious place, but the work climate is changing. 

Alongside triggering the shift towards hybrid working, the pandemic (and the working dynamics it forced us to adopt) provided us all with a chance to be more open with our colleagues. And as a result, more of us are leaving our work personas at home in favour of an increasingly open, laid-back approach.

That is according to new research from Linkedin, which has revealed just how powerful being emotionally open at work can be for workers’ productivity and wellbeing.

The research also found that humour is the number one emotion British workers typically share with their colleagues, with over half (59%) cracking a joke at least once a day.

However, this doesn’t mean that we are not sharing our more vulnerable sides. In fact, according to the survey, the pandemic has made us more comfortable sharing negative emotions with both our colleagues and managers; 57% said they now let their boss know when they feel overwhelmed, while 45% said they now feel comfortable enough to speak about their mental health. 

For example, the phrase ‘fast paced environment’ is used in job advertisements. Why do so many employers use this vague and stressful description?

Humour is a vital component to all areas of our lives and our wellbeing – the workplace is no different. In fact it is essential that for an organisation to bring out the best from their employees, it encourages and nurtures a fun but professional working environment.

We are all human and it’s okay, even for professionals, to show our vulnerable and humorous sides at work.

While you might not be in a position to make big changes in your workplace, this research proves that making small moves – for example, by opening up to a colleague – could make a significant difference.

Sarah Knight is the founder of Mind The Gap Business Academy. Sarah states ‘There’s a saying ‘laughter is the shortest distance between two people;’ not only does laughter lighten the mental load it also brings people together.

I have just been writing my thoughts on this whilst listening to my angst-ridden daughter laugh with her friend, and hearing her laughter was like a smile pass the parcel; it made me feel lighter, fresher and made me want to smile.

Let’s face it; there’s nothing better than a proper belly laugh, a chortle, a knowing smile between friends that passes round positivity quicker than Maverick can navigate a fighter jet out of a canyon.

Laughter enhances our intake of oxygen-rich air, and it helps us complete and relieve our stress cycle which means we are less likely to burn out, it means if we can then view things realistically and keep things in perspective. It can soothe tension.

A workplace culture that encourages fun, allows humour, that sparks joy will keep people happy – and we know that happy people are more likely to be satisfied in their job, more likely to stay in their job and if people get on with people; if they have colleagues to laugh with, they are more likely to want to continue working in that place of joy,” Sarah continued. 

If everyone is working together, if there is a common cause, a reason to unify people then there is passion, care, compassion and humour.

However, there is also a note of caution and a big pulsing poster of inclusivity. Humour only works in the workplace if there is no out crowd, if everyone is included, if every single layer enjoys the joke. Humour can also be divisive in the workplace; if there is a clique of clowns laughing at their own jokes, laughing at others then humour in the workplace can be a dark path to pushing people out.

Humour can bring people together if everyone takes personal responsibility for the impact their jokes and how their sense of humour could impact another human is a skill that needs educating in workplaces from the top down. It comes down to the core competencies of emotional intelligence; self-awareness and self-regulation. Understanding how you behave and how you see the world and the impact your behaviours have on others.

Embracing humour, finding the fun, spreading the joy in the workplace is an art. Done well you have a booming workplace full of positivity; done without consideration, without understanding your fellow humans and how they approach humour; there’s a danger of exclusivity, of isolating colleagues and toxicity.

So like everything in this world, it’s about finding the balance.’

Humour in the workplace is not only desirable but an incredibly positive part of our working day. Difficulties and challenges will always be part of any job but if we can face them with a sprinkling of fun, how much easier those problems will be.

Sarah Knight:

Sarah’s latest training course, Press Play Live. To join her next cohort, visit

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