April Fool’s Day may have come and gone (or maybe it is still coming if you have some tricky coworkers that weren’t about to let the office pranks go even though April Fool’s Day was over the weekend). But that doesn’t mean that all humor has to leave your cubicle with it! We all know the workplace is for…work… but a little good humored fun and levity can boost morale and camaraderie and make people WANT to come to work. And an office of people happy with their jobs is a whole lot more productive than an office of people watching the clock tick away until they can go home.
In an MSNBC article by Charles Q. Choi, the benefits of humor in the workplace are explored. What do you think? Does humor have its place in the office?
No joke! Wisecracks benefit workplace
By Charles Q. Choi
Kidding around at work is commonly thought of as perilous, as the hit sitcom “The Office” often explores to wincing extremes.
Now intense research finds light humor at work is a good thing.
In their study, “The Case for Developing New Research on Humor and Culture in Organizations: Toward a Higher Grade of Manure,” researchers analyzed theories on humor, emotion and mood from several hundred studies in the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and communications.
“There’s an Ernest Hemingway quote we relied on for our title — ‘It always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure,'” said researcher Chris Robert, a psychologist at the University of Missouri at Columbia. “The double entendre there is that people who use humor may be, well, full of it, but there’s a positive side as well.”
The researchers make the case that humor is serious business.
“It’s not just clowning around and having fun. It has meaningful impact on cohesiveness in the workplace and communication quality among workers,” Robert said. “The ability to appreciate humor, the ability to laugh and make other people laugh actually has physiological effects on the body that cause people to become more bonded.”
Job jokesThe researchers noted many studies found that humor — particularly joking around concerning things associated with the job — actually has a positive impact in the workplace. Occasional humor among colleagues enhances creativity, department cohesiveness and overall performance, they said.
Of course, attempts at humor can go too far.
“The show ‘The Office’ regularly explores extreme cases of something that obviously happens in everyday life — you have people who try too hard,” Robert said. “You shouldn’t blame the messenger there, the humor, though — you should blame the person.”
Sexist humor, while perhaps meant in good fun, can also promote discrimination against women, separate research recently showed.
Robert and Yan published their findings as a chapter in the 2007 edition of “Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management” (Elsevier).