Is Humour (or Humor) in the Workplace a Joke?

Is humour in the workplace the Rodney Dangerfield of workplace topics?   I actually had a CEO of a large corporation recently refer to me as their “token” fluff guy. They have one every conference apparently.  Then there was a fellow in my audience who, with arms folded across his chest and a scowl permanently etched into his face, declared, “He didn’t really buy the message I was trying to sell about humour in the workplace.”  This was before I had even done my humour  in the workplace workshop!

I certainly understand where some folks are coming from.  As a recovering manager, I totally get that people have to be (and rightly so!) concerned about all those “serious”  bottom line/ROI issues, which is why humour at work is needed now more than ever!

As anyone who’s seen me speak knows, my message isn’t about goofing off or not working hard or turning work into an amusement park! There’s a reason it’s called work!   There’s parts of everybody’s job that isn’t fun (except mine), and we shouldn’t expect every moment to be a passion-filled romp in the hay.  (In fact, I’m rather hard-nosed about that whole topic,after all, one of the biggest de-motivators and morale crushers is working alongside people who aren’t pulling their own weight!)

So “humour in the workplace” can never be just about having mindless fun. It’s about being more human, being more creative, doing things differently to stand out from the herd, and ultimately about changing the way we work.  It’s about working hard AND having fun.   Not only are those two things NOT mutually exclusive, they actually complement each other and can feed off each other!

And here’s my own personal “bottom line” – even if adding more humour into your workplace doesn’t have all the positive effects I believe it will in terms of increased productivity and improved relationships and improved trust, and increased creativity and innovation, and less stress and better customer service and improved communications, then ask yourself this: Would you rather have all things stay the same and have LESS fun, or all things being equal, try have a little more fun, a little more positive energy, a little more humanity in your day to day work life?

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