A pirate, a blonde, and a priest walk into a bar, and the bartender says, ‘What is this, a joke?'
Contrary to popular belief, research tells us that almost everyone has a sense of humor. And it turns you can use it to your advantage when building a more effective team.
Some of the world's biggest companies have mastered the art of creating a more laugh-friendly environment. IBM and Yahoo have silly names for their conference rooms ("The 3pm staff meeting in the Kajagoogoo room has been rescheduled..."), Hulu hosts Airzooka and taco-eating competitions, MailChimp has a web-enabled Nerf cannon standing guard over the office and Twitter often holds meetings on its rooftop.
So what do these companies know that we don't?
Physical & mental benefits of laughter
We've long known that laughing triggers the release of disease-fighting endorphins and antibodies, fighting off everything from anxiety and depression to heart disease. A happy, giggling workforce is a healthy workforce, with lower rates of presenteeism and employee burnout.
But it's the mental benefits that really drive results when it comes to laughter in the workplace. When your employees laugh, in return they get:
So is it time to start turning your office into stand-up comedy stage? Not just yet.
The pitfalls of humor in the workplace
No self-respecting boss really wants to be Michael Scott. And for good reason — research shows that if you try to be funny and you're not, or if you're offensive — or even if you're too self-deprecating too often — your employees will lose respect for you.
And while it sounds tempting to have a job where you have fun all day, every day, most of us want to actually want jobs that offer a balance between fun and meaningful work, and be considered competent and productive by our colleagues — which isn't always "fun" in the traditional sense of the word. So there has to be a balance between laughing and thoughtfulness.
How to build more laughter into your team dynamics
First, smart managers know that self-confidence is key to pulling off humor in the workplace. Also, know your limits — no one likes to be made fun of, and off-color humor is dangerous territory in the workplace. But there are ways you can add more positivity and openness to the work environment, which invites humor in.
It may sound cheesy, but a laughter-filled work environment starts with positive thinking. Having a sunny outlook leads to light-heartedness, which leads to laughter. The single most important thing you can do to encourage a more effective team is model the behavior that you'd like to see. Don't take yourself or your job too seriously, don't interrupt people when they're talking, and try to get better at picking up on your employees' emotional cues.
And yes, try to be funny (or at the very least, clever). Try these six tactics to adding more humor to your workplace interactions:
So channel your inner George Carlin or Amy Schumer and bring a little levity to your team culture and dynamics. You might just find that laughter is the best medicine — for your bottom line.
Or — hire us to help add humor and levity to any work outing via a scavenger hunt.
Co-founder Jill Hinton Wolfe is a communicator, entrepreneur and Army veteran who is passionate about designing surprising and unique experiences for her clients.