Work Appropriate Humor Creates a Productive Work Environment
Article Text: Downsizing and restructuring of organizations continue to increase workplace stress. An atmosphere of uncertainty overshadows even a hint of job security. Employees work longer and harder than ever, due to staggering workloads caused by cut backs, and they still can’t get all the work done. Job satisfaction is on the decline.
What’s the remedy? Studies reveal that workers list fun as a top priority for job satisfaction, even above salary. Numerous studies show that increased productivity and employee retention are relative to the amount of laughter and fun in their workplace.
Yet, deteriorating work conditions continue to squash the potential to engage in fun at work, particularly if upper management suffers from “terminal seriousness.” Workers wrestle with another barrier that hinders them from expressing humor at work – the risk of being misinterpreted.
• If you are having fun on the job, you might be accused of goofing off, wasting time and not being productive.
• Your professionalism could be questioned and you could lose the respect of others who think you do not take your job seriously.
• A third concern about using humor in the workplace is the potential to inadvertently offend co-workers, or bystanders.
Whether a work atmosphere is fun, or not, depends largely on the leadership. A pecking order exists within businesses. The attitudes and behaviors that leaders display set the tone for those who are under their direction to follow suit. When managers demonstrate their ability to see the humor and laugh instead of over-reacting to unexpected circumstances, it opens the door for employees to draw on their sense of humor to overcome the adversities they encounter. Instead of becoming paralyzed by fear when things are not going well, employees develop resiliency.
Employees respect managers who openly display their humanness, by exposing an error they once made and sharing the insights gained. Doing so establishes an atmosphere of trust and cultivates workers’ willingness to be open with their supervisors. Employees develop the confidence to disclose their own oversights, disappointing information or challenges and ask for assistance. Openness grants everyone permission to learn and grow from another’s experiences.
Nothing beats a fun work environment. Whether you are at the top of the work chain in your company or starting from the bottom, infiltrating a tense or dull workplace with humor requires commitment and patience. It is worth every effort. Start slow, but start now. And by all means, make it fun!
Five tips to safely unleash your sense of humor on the job:
• Clearly establish and maintain that you are serious about doing your job in a competent and timely manner.
• Choose the timing for using humor carefully, so you aren’t creating inappropriate distractions.
• Observe co-workers to detect their individual humor personalities, and be sensitive toward them. What appears funny to you, may not tickle their funny bone.
• Start small and don’t jump in trying to entertain and amuse. Play it safe and introduce your sense of humor gradually by surprising co-workers with something that makes them smile.
• Use self-effacing humor to relate to a challenge or disappointment that a co-worker is experiencing.
Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois, works with individuals and organizations who want to learn how to use the power of humor and the magic of laughter to handle the demands and pressures of work and home, adjust to constant change, deal with difficult people, cope with the unpredictable swift pace of life, product positive outcomes and have more fun.
Learning to laugh and “hangin’ on with humor” rescued Lois from the distress and despair surrounding her daily life, and initiated her recovery from a brain injury. Lois’ keynotes and trainings entertain, inspire and stimulate audiences to examine their own response to challenge and adversity. Hilarious personal stories, “Lessons from Lois” impart life-changing insights and equip participants with humor strategies and practical solutions to overcome the seriousness of their life challenges and feel happy.
Her universal message renews hope and motivates others to consistently do small things so they can achieve amazing results one day at a time.
©2012 Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois – Permission to reprint or repost this article is granted by including the above byline and Lois’ contact information. http://www.lessonsfromlois.com