6 Reasons to Bring Humor Into the Workplace

By Marina Misculin | October 2, 2020

When we think about the workplace, we don’t associate it with lightheartedness. We think about professionalism. We carry ourselves a certain way because it is how society conditions us to think about work. But during a time marked by stress, uncertainty and uneasiness, moments of humor can make all the difference.

I’m a comedian, and I spend many of my nights making audiences laugh (yep, even during COVID, albeit virtually). This comedic improv gives me a mental break, helps me work on my communication skills, and also builds a community of lifelong friends.

But, you might ask, why is humor and lightheartedness in the workplace so important?

  1. People will enjoy being around you at work. It’s obvious—we gravitate towards people who demonstrate humor and lightheartedness. We appreciate their company and find ourselves wanting to be around them. 
  2. Humor reduces stress. And it’s physiological! A good laugh leads to lowered blood pressure and the release of pain-reducing hormones. It results in decreased muscle tension and lowered catecholamines levels, which is a hormone associated with stress. 
  3. It promotes creative problem-solving. When employees bring humor into the workplace, they encourage brainstorming and creative risks that lead to more significant innovations. Research suggests, employees who have fun are more creative!
  4. It helps build trust and defuses conflict. Employees with a good sense of humor are often good communicators—they understand the nuances in conversations and are able to crack a joke. Humor also builds connection and mutual understanding. The lines of communications for managers, direct reports, and amongst colleagues drastically improves as a result. Not to mention it builds trust between employees. Employees who navigate conversations are well-equipped to defuse conflict and approach difficult conversations with ease. 
  5. It increases productivity. Annette Goodheart, Ph.D., coined the term “plerking”, to describe the idea of combining laughter with work. In her research on laughter therapy, companies who promote laughter in the workplace report higher productivity levels. Meaning, silliness can bring about the right atmosphere for lasting productivity.
  6. Humor and fun increase job satisfaction. When people are in an upbeat and positive environment, they are more likely to develop new ideas, take creative risks, and have more passion for their jobs. All leading to long-term satisfaction and enthusiasm that is contagious.

At Liftoff, I am lucky enough to feel comfortable bringing my sense of humor to work. We regularly organize events promoting goofiness, teamwork, and humor. Recently, we celebrated our 8th company anniversary with a virtual festival. We sent gift boxes, organized DJ sets, and even held arts & crafts online. Currently, we are planning a week-long Back to School Week for our employees where we offer a variety of learning opportunities for our team and their families.

Apart from teamwide events, I bring humor into my day-to-day encounters and conversations (even if they are through Slack). This ranges from wearing a prom dress, a plastic horse’s head on a Google Meet, or a full-on astronaut flight suit to onboard new hires. Other examples include Liftoff’s popular #riddlemethis Slack channel with daily riddles and quizzes. We routinely seek ways to bond during remote work and encourage our teams to bring cheerfulness where it fits into their workday. 

With the pandemic, current political and social realities, and personal circumstances that all impact our well-being, supportive and humorous colleagues motivate our work. Not to mention help build long-lasting job satisfaction. I know I do my best work when I laugh and connect with my colleagues, especially when I can wear my flight suit. Keep calm, and just keep laughing!