No joke: The benefits of humor at work

by Oct 6, 2023

Have you ever felt stressed, bored, or isolated at work? If so, you are not alone. Many workers face these challenges, especially in this digital era where many work remotely or in different work locations. However, there is one common human behavior that we engage in with ease outside of the office that can help bolster levity and connection in the office: laughter.

Laughing at work can have many benefits for your well-being, productivity, and relationships. And when it comes to fostering better overall workplace wellbeing, humor and relatable communications should be at the core of it. In fact, it’s possible (and encouraged) to talk about weighty things, while simultaneously using humor as a tool to open the door to more honest, sincere connections … where appropriate. 

As the Harvard Business Review (HBR) put it, “the workplace needs laughter.” A simple chuckle is loaded with health benefits. The physical act of laughing can actually help stimulate organs with more oxygen, manage stress, and improve circulation and muscle relaxation. At a social level, laughter at work can create a safe place for team members to feel comfortable engaging in a more authentic way, as well as stimulate more creativity across departments. The Stanford Graduate School of Business even includes the importance of humor in their curriculum, and its instructors talk about why it’s a “secret weapon” to bonding, creativity, power, and resilience in their TED Talk (discussed below).  

Why infuse laughter at work?

Sonic Boom is not void of light-hearted personality (it’s probably apparent by our website), and it’s one reason we’re dedicated to using it strategically in our communications. We take what we do — creating engaging wellness programs to help members live well at work and at home — very seriously, but we also know that the right kind of language matters when it comes to improving engagement and connecting with teams. Here’s why. 

Funny leaders are more motivating

In their TED Talk behavior scientist Jennifer Aaker and corporate strategist Naomi Bagdonas share that leaders with a sense of humor are seen as 27% more motivating, on average, than those who don’t infuse LOLs into their agendas. Why is that? Laughter brings some levity to situations that may be seen as tense or too serious and makes the situation, and the leader, more approachable in that moment.  

Related: Expand your EI at work

Humor expedites connection

Aaker and Bagdonas also explain that when you start a conversation with a laugh, you are more inclined to bond on a deeper level. It releases a “cocktail of hormones,” such as endorphins, cortisol, and dopamine, allowing people to relax and feel more connected to one another. This is one reason our lighthearted, but purposeful, Caught Ya module is one of the most popular parts of our platform — it is a social connectivity tool that encourages members to “catch colleagues bein’ healthy,” while also giving a fun “gotcha ya!” exclamation to peers.  

Laughter breeds creativity

Michael Kerr, author of The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank, says that humor is a “key ingredient” to creativity — it encourages people to produce solutions in novel ways without an inner critic blocking the path. Think about icebreakers; these are typically light and positioned to “kick off” a brainstorming or working session. There is a reason for that! 

Related: How to be an effective remote manager

Add humor to your workday

You don’t need to tell jokes in every meeting to adopt this style of work attitude. Instead, here are some tips to merge comedy with collaboration: 

  1. Start with an icebreaker. It’s an easy, communal way to, well, break the ice ahead of a major meeting. 
  2. Lead with a joke. This can help add some playfulness to a presentation, and it can alleviate any nerves too. 
  3. Insert a fun slide. PowerPoint presentations are a wonderful place to interject a fun, but relevant, slide to get your point across. 
  4. Look for what’s true before what’s funny. Find humor in an existing situation, rather than trying to fit in an ill-timed joke. 
  5. Avoid controversial topics. Know your audience, and always keep connection (not division) in mind when making comments. 

If you’re curious about Sonic Boom’s offerings and what keeps up busting up with laughter during the workday (it’s usually marketing memes), schedule a demo with the funniest team members.