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Optimum Talks Blog

Why Humour At Work Matters

by Kim Hirsch

A couple months ago, we shared an article on our Optimum Talent LinkedIn page called “Why Funny Leaders Are Better Leaders, According to 2 Stanford Professors”, and a bit to my surprise, it was quite popular. Perhaps it’s because you don’t see too many articles specific to humour at work or about humor being a trait of good leaders but given its popularity, and my personal appreciation for a well-timed joke, I felt that this was a topic worth discussing further.

When we think about the highest levels of human connection, sharing a good laugh is towards the top of that list. That is because it feels good, brings us closer together and puts us at ease. And when you think of this in a business sense, all those things can be translated into happy, motivated, and productive employees. Of course, there are a few ground rules. The humor must be appropriate for the workplace, not offend anyone and speak to your culture and demographics, but when done correctly it can have a positive impact in a number of ways.  Here are a few examples:

Attraction and Retention: As the expectations of the talent pool have evolved over the past couple of decades, the typical organizational culture has shifted to ensure that they are attracting and retaining high-performing talent. These days, many people are looking to work for an organization that is authentic, collaborative, innovative and fun, and what better way to show that then to be an organization that weaves humor into your language, stories, symbols, and decision making.

Stress Relief: Mental health is a bigger concern in workplaces now more than ever. Reported levels of stress and anxiety are at an all-time high and more people are taking time away from the office for these reasons. And while laughter won’t fix all ailments, it can certainly help improve mental wellbeing as the act of laughing releases endorphins that make you feel good and can even relieve pain![1]

Connection: Humor brings people together. Whether it’s used for breaking the ice when meeting a new colleague or bringing a sense of comradery to a team, applying humor to your leadership approach is a sure way to break down barriers and bring a sense of unity, improve collaboration, and perhaps even spark innovation.

Humor makes the office a more fun place to be. Even if you don’t consider yourself a funny person, encourage it in those around you or laugh at yourself. Humor takes many different forms for people, and you’ll likely have to experiment to see what works but try adding it to your leadership arsenal and see what results you get.


[1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-laughter-may-be-the-best-pain-medicine/