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How to Have a Sense of Humor at Work

humor at work

April is National Humor Month, and if you haven’t already, it’s high time to incorporate a sense of humor at work, especially if you are in leadership. Here at That’s Good HR, we love to laugh and have fun AND we know how to get seriously good results for our Indianapolis clients and candidates. Learn more about why you should incorporate laughter into your workday — and why humor is more than just one-liners or knock-knock jokes. 

The benefits of laughter

According to a score of studies on humor at work, laughter can make a big impact on performance and employee retention. Business leaders that show off their sense of humor may be seen as 27% more motivating and admired than those who don’t, plus their employees are up to 15% more engaged with their work and twice as likely to solve a challenge creatively. And having a sense of humor isn’t anything new, those stats come from a 1987 study that has been affirmed time and again in additional research. Plus, humor doesn’t just pay off with coworkers, being funny with customers can increase their willingness to literally pay you by up to 18%.

Researching humor at work

A large amount of this research on humor at work has been both compiled and observed anecdotally by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, authors of “Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is A Secret Weapon in Business and Life.” They first started working together in 2014 when Aaker, a behavioral scientist and Stanford Business School professor, invited Bagdonas to be a guest lecturer. At the time, Bagdonas was completing her MBA at Stanford, but she was also regularly performing improv at local comedy clubs. 

Bagdonas’ talk about bringing storytelling into data and analysis brought many students to tears from laughing so hard. Later, Aaker found that when her students’ course evaluations were completed, they could recall the points made by Bagdonas in more detail than almost any other speaker. Once the women realized how they could harness the power of humor in business, they started working together, co-teaching a Stanford course called, “Humor: Serious Business” and eventually publishing “Humor, Seriously” in fall 2020, which has become a Wall Street Journal, LA Times and USA Today Bestseller. 

Finding moments to laugh

Incorporating a sense of humor at work is often less about polishing your stand-up routine and more about seeing humor in the day-to-day. Don’t know any good jokes? Start exercising your sense of humor by making a clever quip about something you’ve observed in the office. Contrary to common belief, being funny is something that you can practice, like a muscle that can be worked and improved. 

And don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. Especially for leaders, this usually means you are more forgiving and makes it more acceptable for your subordinates to laugh at themselves too. And research actually shows that people who laugh at themselves will in turn make fewer mistakes because they are less anxious about messing up (and they recover quicker when mistakes do happen). 

Let us find a place for your humor to shine

There’s a reason why workplace comedies like “The Office” are some of the most popular shows on television … real moments at work can be really funny! And when we spend a major chunk of our week interacting with our coworkers, having a sense of humor at work can make it that much more enjoyable. 

At That’s Good HR, we not only bring our sense of humor to our own office, we also see it every day with our partners at the top in Indianapolis. Whether you are a candidate in search of an organization where you’ll love to work (and laugh) or a client employer looking to add a dash of humor to your next hiring process, look no further than That’s Good HR for employer-employee matching needs! Contact us today at 317-469-4141 to learn more.

We’d love to help you. Give us a call. 317.469.4141