When asked about the most important traits to look for in a potential partner, dating and relationship experts named humor as one of the top five that people look for in love. This shouldn't come as a surprise as we all want to have fun with the people we're closest to.
Similarly, we also want coworkers we can have fun with--people we can laugh with in meetings and who don't take themselves too seriously. Humor is important in the workplace because it reminds us of our humanness. When no one feels comfortable to be themselves, no one will feel comfortable to be creative or take risks.
Leaders in the workplace have the responsibility of setting the tone, raising the bar, and upholding expectations. That goes for workplace culture too. Leaders, some important things to remember about humor are:
Humor Builds Trust
Trust is a crucial aspect of a successful workplace. In fact, 32 percent of workers' loyalty stems from being able to trust their bosses. There are many aspects that contribute to gaining employee trust, but being human is one of the easiest to achieve. By using humor and light-heartedness at work, employees see the leaders for who they truly are and in turn learn to trust them.
Humor Sparks Creativity
A study conducted by MIT found that when asked to produce ideas on the spot, improv comedians were 25 percent more creative than professional product designers. Ultimately, the study concluded that we're much more creative when we are stimulated by humor and play. It's no secret that having a good laugh helps us relax our shoulders, unwind, and temporarily forget about the stresses of the day. Laughing helps soothe tension--a feeling too many business professionals are entangled in daily. Humor in the workplace helps stimulate our creative senses and release stress that could be blocking us from coming up with the next big idea.
Humor Sets You Apart
Companies like Charmin, Denny's, Wendy's, and Netflix didn't become famously funny on their own. The personalities of these brands were intentionally created by employees who had the freedom to crack jokes on their company's social channels. When you create a fun workplace environment, the fun trickles down into your employee's work and helps create a brand that customers and even non-customers want to engage with. Having a culture of humor internally can help your brand stand out externally.
We're all motivated by something different. Just as humor helps reduce stress and opens our minds to creativity, it can also motivate us. When people work in an environment that encourages humanity and fosters laughter, they will be more motivated to work for the greater good of the company that is life-giving for them.
Humor has a Place
This all being said, humor in the workplace should be used appropriately and only for positive purposes. Negative humor only disintegrates trust. Because of this, leaders should set the right example by only using humor that fits the scenario and cause laughter, not hurt.
A moment of humor and a laugh shared with a coworker has the power to change the trajectory of our day. Humor puts us at ease and makes us feel welcome. So, I challenge you with this: find one way that you can make someone laugh today. It will ease not only their spirit, but yours as well.