Did you know that the average six-year-old child laughs 300 times a day? It’s a stark contrast to the average adult who laughs an average of only 15 times daily. To some, even 15 laughs may seem high.
Research shows that laughter has many physical and psychological benefits, such as stimulating the immune system, decreasing “stress” hormones, and increasing endorphins. These benefits also translate to the workplace. It’s been shown that a little humor & fun can increase productivity, enhance team building, and improve morale. In a time where employees are consistently being required to work harder & faster, the ability to de-stress and laugh is even more important.
It’s important to remember that not all humor is created equally. Individuals who make exclusive or offensive jokes may not realize that their attempts at humor may affect employees negatively, causing them to feel uncomfortable, angry, or upset.
“Humor should be inclusive to be well-received. But sexist, racist, ageist jokes, and crude remarks label certain individuals, or groups of people, as inferior in some way and create exclusions. Not only is this inappropriate, but offensive displays of humor, even when not directed at a specific person, can lead to sanctions, terminations, and lawsuits,” explains Lahle Wolfe in the article “Learn About Humor in the Workplace and the Law” on thebalance.com.
So how do you incorporate well-intentioned laughter and smiles at work? In order to create a happy & healthy work environment, the article suggests setting boundaries and prohibiting innuendos & comments in jest about:
- Sexual orientation or acts
- Religious or political practices or beliefs
- Race or ethnicity
- Social status, gender, or age-related stereotypes
- Physical appearance and attributes
- Weight-related issues
- Disabled persons, or persons with any form of diminished capacity
- Any other topic that targets an individual or group as being inferior.
Remember, you don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to incorporate humor into your workplace. Sometimes just having the ability to laugh at yourself, and share that laugh with your employees, is enough to make everyone relax and smile.
Rich V. says
I might offer that the boundary topics Cassandra suggests are appropriate boundaries for “humor” in any setting, not just the workplace. If your “humor” is rooted in any of those topics, you might ask yourself where your heart is and whether you’re trying to bring a smile to someone by berating another person. Not good.