Humor at Work

Tuesday, March 01, 2016Mark Futrovsky

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, and of getting things done.” Who said it? Chris Rock? Tina Fey? Will Ferrell? Wrong, wrong, and wrong. It was Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and a five-star general during World War II who said it. I couldn’t agree more with our former President, and have always strongly believed that humor in the workplace leads to a positive, healthy, and successful workplace.

Work doesn't have to be funny but it can be fun, and humor is probably one of the better management tools that are out there. There are many benefits to using humor – including reducing tension, frustration and anger; managing conflicts; reducing burnout; boosting morale; and motivating employees.

To succeed in business you need to be adaptable and open to change. To implement change, communication is key, as change is never easy. To reduce the stress of change, we always try to use humor to open the channels of communication. From a management perspective, we have found that using humor (one of my favorites is self-deprecating humor) is a great way to break down or remove intimidating barriers between management employees. Humor also helps add a sense of calm to an industry like ours, which is anything but calm.

If you think that President Eisenhower and I are the only proponents for this, look at Fortune Magazine, which annually publishes a list of The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America. Part of the criteria as to who makes the list includes "trust in management, pride in work/company, and camaraderie." More than once, Fortune’s Number One Company on the list has been Southwest Airlines – an organization that is best known for its commitment to making work (including flights) fun. Humor in the office, no matter what position you have, can make you more approachable and lead to better engagement.

Do you need more proof? If you don’t believe Eisenhower or the Fortune Magazine polling, my daughter Erin, an exceptional (unbiased Dad opinion) licensed mental health provider, points out that it is well known in science that humor brings all sorts of psychological and social benefits, or in other words, is a strong medicine for both body and mind. Here are some good reads supporting this research:

Laughter is the Best Medicine

30 Benefits of Humor at Work

Many of us have a tendency to take ourselves way too seriously. Humor is an absolute necessity in humanizing your leadership role and it's clear that managers should begin thinking of honing in on their humor skills as a management tool.

In my experience, I have found that humor tends to create a positive work environment with reduced stress. This leads to more employee interaction, innovative ideas, and productive workplace.

Bottom line is... humor in the workplace is both a win for the employees and employer, and as Jeff Justice tells us: “He who laughs - lasts!”

About the Author

Mark Futrovsky

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