Knock-Knock! - Who’s There - Humor in the Workplace!

It’s incredible how using humor appropriately at the workplace can transform the drab work environment to a happy and exciting one. By nature, sharing jokes and laughing things out tends to help relieve tensions. At work, additionally, humor encourages engagement and kills boredom, hence ultimately contributing to business success.

Also read: 27 GIFs that prove being an HR Manager is fun

So, now that you know cracking a few jokes at work is key to workplace satisfaction, how exactly can you use the humor treasure to create a lasting business masterpiece?


Areas to Make Use of Humor at Work

Humor cannot be used all the time and everywhere at work. So, you need to ask yourself questions such as:

When is the best time to get your audience to laugh at work?

Which meetings allow the use of humor?


They are often so serious, stressful and boring. Therefore, you need to weave humor in an interview process and come out as a professional. It is imperative that you know your future employees. Laughter is a great connection tool and individuals who use balanced humor throughout an interview are likely to be intelligent, goal-oriented team players. However, don’t forget that misplaced humor is likely to backfire.


During a presentation, listeners can only take so much of the figures, facts, and details without taking a break or requiring a release. Therefore, as a presenter, if you don’t step up and provide a release, the listeners will barely listen, let alone understand your presentation.

Typically, audiences enjoy presentations that incorporate at least some humor. But, when making a presentation, you need to distinguish between jokes and humor. Jokes invite a response whereas humor is found within the context of a presentation.

You do not need to try too hard. Just use a good sense of humor to capture your listeners’ attention, stress your point and advance the overall objectives of your presentation.


Though humor helps capture attention, create rapport, relieve tension and stress in meetings and motivate, it is not always applicable in all sessions. Humor is best suited for off-site meetings and staff meetings. However, exercise caution when using humor in a serious setting. Evaluate your audience as well as the atmosphere in the meeting before you decide to use it.

Also read: 10 Ways to Make Work More Fun and Increase Productivity

Ecommerce has brought about virtual meetings and telecommunication. Be careful how you use humor when you are emailing or facetiming your colleagues. Remember that body language and the tone of your voice make up more than half of communication, so use your words and smileys wisely.

How to Use Humor at Work

The type and level of humor appropriate at work depends on the company culture. To learn how to incorporate humor into work, it is imperative that you understand your firm’s unique characteristics. Are relationships between senior managers and staff members overly serious?

Sometimes the desire to bring humor at work is there, but it can be challenging since humor is subjective and you never know how your boss, client or colleague might interpret your well-intended joke.


Here are 5 tips to help you distinguish good and poor humor.

1. Understand the Audience

Believe it or not, not everyone will find your joke funny. Get to know the personality of your audience. Remember you are not a comedian and making a joke at work is entirely different from performing a stand-up act. Distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic individuals to help you choose an all-inclusive joke.

2. There Is a Place and Time for Humor

A chuckle or two now and then can help ease stressful situations and create room for interaction. However, cracking endless jokes during a serious meeting is a distraction and is therefore inappropriate. For instance, if the company just lost an important client or suffered a significant loss, it is hardly the time to make a joke.

3. Laugh with Them and Not at Them

If you are the boss, just because you can make jokes about others doesn’t mean you should. In fact, you should not single out anyone unless you are making fun of yourself. Doing so helps lower barriers, maintain respect and make people feel more comfortable and less awkward. Don’t use humor at work at the expense of others nor sarcasm to belittle others.

4. Don’t Force It

Humor at work should not be about forcing the funny, instead, let the funny happen and take advantage when it happens. Allowing the joke to run its course establishes a level of honesty that is good for business. When you are trying too hard to be funny, your joke will not only fall on deaf ears, but you are also likely to lose the respect of your colleagues, seniors, and subordinates.


5. Always Keep It G-Rated

Never attempt to use bad humor at work. When you use your rapier wit to intimidate or humiliate, then you are confusing humor and arrogance. Sexist, racist and other forms of discrimination are unwelcome and should not be tolerated just because someone attempted to hide them in bad humor.

You can also introduce laughs and giggles at the workplace by pulling pranks on your colleagues. However, distinguish between funny and demeaning pranks.

For example, emailing all your co-workers, informing them about a very important meeting that might determine their future in the company and getting to see the look on their faces once they realize that it’s all a big joke might be your idea of fun. But, your employees won’t appreciate the stress you’ve caused them. However, pulling a prank in a relaxed situation, non-business related, such as a birthday party might be okay.

Also read: 8 Reasons To Make Every Day ‘Bring Your Pet to Work Day’

When you are having a birthday party at the office, a cake and candles are a must. Let your colleague make a wish and blow those candles out. You’ll all want to join in the fun, however. So, another prerequisite at parties are cans of Silly Strings. While they’re one of the most common and most affordable pranks, you must be careful and wait till the candles are all blown out or you’ll set the party on fire (literally, not figuratively speaking).

Benefits of Using Humor at Work

Using humor in the workplace enhances communication, strengthens relationships and boosts productivity, which is essential for a quality business. The benefits of humor in a business setting can be broken down as follows:

Humor and Communication

  • Gets people to listen
  • Increases persuasion
  • Lends perspective


Humor and Relationships

  • Builds rapport
  • Reduces status differentials, hence breaks down barriers
  • Helps put others at ease
  • Builds credibility
  • Builds trust
  • Diffuses tensions and conflicts

Humor and Productivity

  • Motivates and helps boost morale
  • Relieves stress hence improved health
  • Allows company to stand out
  • Promotes employer-employee collaboration and engagement
  • Increases acceptance of new ideas and positive criticism

Using humor in the workplace is often frowned upon since there are many risk factors involved. However, laughter provides the business with a myriad of benefits as well. You simply need to ensure that you avoid the pitfalls associated with using humor at work. Judicious use of humor plays a significant role in the success of the business through promoting productivity creativity and analytical precision.

Download the eBook and find out what makes people happy to go to work every day and give their best, with real answers from employees across the world.

Image via