The Benefits of Workplace Humor

June 20th, 2012

It seems that humor is serious business. According to a report published in Science Daily, it’s ok — and even encouraged — to have a little fun at work!

Chris Robert, who is an assistant professor at the University of Missouri (MU), along with a business doctoral student collaborator, Wan Yan, analyzed hundreds of sources on the theories of humor. Robert professes that humor in the workplace isn’t just clowning around, but has a powerful impact on workplace cohesiveness and the quality of communication among workers. Robert, who teaches psychology at MU, says that laughter actually causes people to bond more because of the physiological effects on the body. Other benefits of workplace humor include its ability to reduce job stress, spark creativity, boost morale, relieve burnout, energize, and put things in perspective.

So, what happens physiologically when we laugh? In the short-term, when we laugh, blood flow and oxygen is increased throughout the body. When you take in more oxygen-rich air, your muscles, lungs, and heart are stimulated. Laughter also helps to increase endorphins released by your brain, which makes you feel good. In the long- term, it’s thought that positive thoughts can improve your immune system and ability to fight off illness, reports the Mayo Clinic.

But implementing humor in the workplace isn’t without its caveats. Humor shouldn’t be used to poke fun at someone, but rather to laugh about things or events. Nor should you joke about very serious subjects that may be painful to someone else, like physical disabilities, illness, or death. Be careful about humor in multi-international organizations where differences in sensibilities and senses of humor may be present, as Robert and Yan note.

All-in-all, humor in the workplace can be a powerful tool to inspire people to creativity and greatness by working in an environment where people can feel free to let loose, but also valued and trusted.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071031130917.htm      http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00034

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