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Making Laughter a Job Requirement: 3 Ways to Use Humor in the Workplace to Motivate Employees

Nonprofit Leadership Center

For years, the team at Corban OneSource played practical jokes on each other to keep things fun. One of their most elaborate pranks involved creating a web of clear packing tape in a project manager’s doorway. While there is a fine line regarding humor at work, this HR company in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida, says appropriate humor is one important strategy to reduce workplace stress.

Happy Employees Are Productive Employees

study by researchers at Oxford University found that workers are 13% more productive when they’re happy. And yet, our rate of laughter per day decreases dramatically as we age — from 300 times a day as a 4-year-old to just three daily laughs by age 40.

According to research published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, the benefits of using humor at work include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Overall workplace cohesion
  • A greater sense of belonging at work
  • Better perceived leader performance
  • Improved mental health
  • Closer relationships

As employees seek to feel more valued in the workplace and competition for talent has never been greater, here are a few ways to appropriately incorporate laughter into your workday.

3 Ways to Incorporate Humor Appropriately at Work

1. Start your team meeting with a laugh. 

Whether your team works in an office or is entirely virtual, begin your next staff meeting with a quick activity that allows your employees to laugh and have some fun. Here are some ideas to get you started: Ask everyone to share something funny that happened to them over the weekend, tell a G-rated joke, or encourage everyone to share an embarrassing or silly photo from their childhood.

2. Tap into your inner kid. 

Children learn and find joy in playing. Bring some games into the office or Zoom room on a Friday to lighten things up. A friendly game of corn hole or “two truths and a lie” on a virtual screen can bring smiles to everyone’s faces.

3. Create your own happy place. 

Set aside a space in your office or a shared drive online where people can contribute and see things that make them smile. From a funny book or video to silly team photos or humorous quotes, give your team a place to turn when the days feel extra challenging. There are countless nonprofit jokes and memes that can help lighten the mood.

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