6 Benefits of Humor at Work

Some people think that fun and a sense of humor have no place at work, that work is very serious business.

Our advice to them? Lighten Up.

There’s a reason that Google has a giant waterslide on its main campus, and that tons of companies have ping pong tables, video games, or free popcorn to eat while watching movies on the giant screen at work.

It’s because the management at these well-respected firms have figured out that employees who work hard like to play hard too.

Besides being fun, humor is actually good for you at work. Here are six reasons why.

1. Humor Reduces Stress

Workplaces that encourage humor often promote employee creativity and improve communications as well. This translates into improved employee wellness that helps reduce stress and burnout.

An organization that encourages humor and shows that it doesn’t take itself too seriously not only ensures better employee relations and teamwork, it also eliminates fear, one of the biggest stress-producers at work and within society.

2. Humor Improves Productivity

Better cooperation between employees and teams almost automatically improves productivity, and humor creates the space for employees to challenge and change old habits and obsolete procedures.

It can help create a culture where we laugh at our mistakes and learn from them rather than yelling at each other, and it gives people the feeling of more control over their workplace. When they feel more comfortable and safe, they work harder, faster and more productively.

3. Humor Improves Physical Health

Humor improves our physical health by releasing toxins and stress just through the act of relaxation. Just as it impossible to speak and listen at the same time, it is also difficult to stay stressed out while you are laughing.

Laughter also increases immune cells and improves your resistance to disease. It triggers the release of endorphins which make you feel better and can even remove pain. Finally, it has been shown that humor and laughter increase blood flow which helps prevent heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.

4. Humor improves Mental Health

Not only can humor help your physical health, it can also do wonders for your mental and emotional well-being. Humor does this by dissipating negative or distressing emotions, because you can’t really feel two strong and opposite emotions at the same time.

It’s hard to stay sad or continue being angry when someone or something makes you laugh. It also lets you shift your perspective so that you don’t feel as overwhelmed as you might have been, and gives you new energy to fight through or fight back.

5. Humor Can Make You More Successful at Work

Many experts believe that humor is a key element to being successful at work. A Robert Half International study, quoted in Forbes magazine, found that 91% of executives believe a sense of humor is important for career advancement, while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humor do a better job.

They also quote another study by the Bell Leadership Institute that found that the two most desirable traits in leaders were a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor. Let’s face it, who would you like as your boss: someone who is strict and grumpy, or someone who can see the humor in even your worst mistakes?

6. Humor Can Make You Easier to Work With

Even among your co-workers, there’s no question that it’s easier to get along with someone with a sense of humor. That’s because using humor will often put the other person at ease and make them more comfortable to work alongside.

It can break the tension in a stressful situation, and can even lead to creating better solutions and synergies in teams because it lets new ideas come in.

Humor can also help by building trust between people in the workplace. Studies show that people with a sense of humor tend to be viewed as more likeable and more trustworthy by their peers.

Humor can be a valuable tool in your workplace, but only if you practice and use it often. Workplace humor should be tasteful and non-discriminatory to be successful. Be careful never to cross that invisible line that makes you a fool versus a funny gal or guy.

But if you want, you can forget about humor and having fun at work. You could be like the people in this quote by the late comedian Goerge Carlin. “Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”

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Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of Change the Things You Can (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit: Change the Things You Can


  1. Matt on the 13th December

    Like the great comedian Bill Cosby stated “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” Great post

  2. Kosio Angelov on the 13th December

    Great content Mike! Humor is definitely stigmatized in the work environment but it get be of great help (as shown by the article). On top of the list you have, I would also like to add that humor can sometimes turn your entire day around. You might be having a bad day for a variety of reasons and seeing something funny can turn it around in just a few seconds.

  3. jason walton on the 18th December

    “When humor goes, there goes civilization.” – Erma Bombeck

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