How to Use Humor at Work (Part 1)

In the national bestseller Flow, University of Chicago psychologist MihalyCsikszentmihalyi suggests two key factors determine our overall happiness:

  • Our relations with other people
  • How we experience our work

You can improve both areas by bringing humor to work each day.

Harvard Business Review (September 2003) reports that executives with a sense of humor climb the corporate ladder more quickly and earn more money than their counterparts.

Stu Robertshaw, a University of Wisconsin professor emeritus of education and psychology, cites a study in which a firm experienced a 21 percent decrease in staff turnover and a 38 percent decrease in Friday absenteeism after incorporating humor into the workplace.

And in another study, management professor David Abramis of California State University, Long Beach, determined that employees who have fun on the job are more productive and creative; are better decision makers and team players; and have fewer absentee, sick and late days.

A sense of humor offers many job benefits:

  • Reduces stress
  • Stimulates creativity
  • Boosts motivation and morale
  • Strengthens teams
  • Makes meetings more effective
  • Facilitates open communication
  • Improves customer services
  • Improves the bottom line

A good laugh reduces blood pressure, increases heart rate, massages internal organs and reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood. It boosts blood flow to your brain, which means you learn more, forget less and feed your curiosity.

Humor also keeps your life in balance, allowing you to more effectively juggle personal goals, family commitments and work demands. You’ll maintain your sanity and perspective as you reduce tension in stressful situations and rise above crises.


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