How does laughter increase productivity?
Imagine that there are two tasks for you and your business colleagues to choose between. You’re going to devote your day to either one or the other of these tasks but you can’t choose both.
In the first task, you’d be working on something serious. It will be something you work on without breaks. It might be interesting, but no guarantees.
In the second task, you’d be working on something serious. It will be something you work on without breaks. It might be interesting, but no guarantees…but some corporate entertainment is guaranteed to make you laugh.
It will be as equally challenging as the first task, maybe more so. It might be complex. But you and your coworkers will laugh together even as you deal with any conflict and tension that might crop up.
What are the benefits of humor in the workplace?
Which of those tasks do you think would be easier to maintain once you’re underway? Which would shift your perspective? Which might prevent burnout? The answer is obvious, wouldn’t you think?
I think it’s fair to say that all employees would choose the second task. Challenging experiences aren’t fun. But the one involving laughter is the one with which you’d enhance work life, employee performance, and all with good sense and humor style.
If you picked the first task, you might stop reading now as your divergent thinking on humor may limit you for the rest of this article. Or, come to think of it, maybe you should read this article with even more determination! Positive humor, even self-deprecating humor, creates job efficiency in the workplace. And it lets us have fun while doing it.
Why is this the case in terms of our choice above? Why does humor do so much for us while we work?
See Related: What Part Of The Brain Processes Humor?
The science behind WHY humor increases productivity in the workplace
“People are more productive when they are relaxed and comfortable,” says Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes of Lewis and Clark College. “Data points clearly in this direction. When we are around other people, we look for what we have in common with them. Often humor is one way that we establish relations or common connections with others.”
In 2017, scientists at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Laura E. Kurtz and Sara B. Algoe, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) explored how humor helps us create common ground, even if that other person isn’t someone we know.
When subjects watched people laugh in video clips, researchers determined that seeing others laugh helped to create a more immediate and stronger bond. Even if those bonds hadn’t previously existed.
Fun jokes and humor tend to bring us together, and that sense of connection helps boost a strong work ethic amongst employees in the work environment. How?
Stress has been called the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century” by the World Health Organization. Estimates about the costs to businesses of time off, lack of efficiency, and overall frustration due to stress amount to upwards of $300 billion a year.
Three hundred BILLION. But there is an answer, thankfully!
It all ties back to humor and laughing – doing a better job and enjoying what we do. When we are laughing, our stress decreases dramatically.
Humor also regulates blood pressure and is the perfect counterbalance to depression. So humor really is the best medicine for your health.
A leading magazine reported more information on how humor and laughter increase cardio capacity, help fight off germs and do so while improving your mood! Who knew humor had that many benefits?
Most think laughing just feels good. But they don’t realize the effects of humor on companies and leaders in the workplace.
Ultimately, we do what we enjoy. We are creatures driven by shared experience. On all fronts, humor and laughing is a truly incredible experience.
North Carolina research shows that shared humor was a solid basis for the well-being of relationships. People connect more strongly to one another and more deeply when their shared experiences are enjoyable and filled with laughter.
Dr. Hayes agrees, “Teams work better in those circumstances. We are all seeking to identify with others and when we laugh at a joke together there’s a common identification. This remains even after it’s been told. This is why we keep reflecting on the experience and passing the joke along.”
In addition to all of this sound scientific and educational study, medical research has shown that laughter reduces levels of stress hormones in the body which block creativity. Who wants those chemicals!
We are glad to see them reduced as much as possible. Laughter also increases our intake of air, which increases the chemicals released by the brain which reduce stress and pain!
Laugh more in the workplace, and you literally, medically, will have more fun, be more creative, and far more productive too.
More thoughts on the benefits in terms of productivity from humor in the workplace
The Harvard Business School reports in their new book that researchers have found that making jokes at work – as long as the joke is funny – can make employees appear more competent!
So, let’s get clear on this for a minute! Humor can actually make YOU look good. And more approachable. How is that for one of the many resources of humor? We think it’s pretty great to have those two most desirable traits tucked under your belt.
And who knows. It might save you money on buying pricey clothes to impress your boss and co-workers. Maybe you just need to make them laugh!
Ideas for how to bring more humor into the workplace
So, if we agree that humor in the workplace can benefit creativity and efficiency (and more!) the next question is specifically how do we do that? What if we don’t think we are funny?
Or worse, what if other people don’t think we are funny and we do? That sounds like a potential disaster waiting to happen.
But here are some new ideas to try that will guarantee laughing and bring the humor all leaders want to see in the workplace.
- Show and tell
- Office trivia
- Ice breakers
- Hire a comedic professional!
Out of the resources above, we obviously think that a professional will instill the greatest sense of laughter into your work environment. Well, that and a plethora of jokes!
A new creative way to utilize such a professional is to have them virtually emcee and help a group navigate a challenging task or day, as a guide to that experience. Imagine if the task from the first example above was helped along by a professional who was guiding the experience going from group to group and hosting breakout moments every hour or so for a few minutes to keep everyone’s spirits up. The effects, as we’ve seen, would be incredible.
This example is in addition to finding out how successful a professional could be at a retreat or conference. People tend to dread conferences as they suggest hours and hours of breakout sessions from which there is no escape.
But what if those in attendance didn’t want to escape because they were having so much fun? Having one or more professionals guide your event can lead to incredible amounts of humor and as an extension of that, any and all successful resources follow.
We’ve seen clearly the benefits of workplace humor. Now it’s up to you to make this humor happen!
Remember: there’s no such thing as too much humor. If you have any questions about how to bring laughter to where you work, ask us anytime. We promise that even that phone call or email will make you smile.
Keep Reading: What Are The Social Benefits Of Laughter?
Greg Bennick is a keynote entertainer, combining comedy with magic, mind reading, juggling AND ideas about your company which everyone will relate to. Greg has performed in over TWENTY-FIVE countries over the last few decades.