10 Benefits of Humor for Organizations

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There is no denying the benefits humor has for an individual’s career.  It is the basis for our most popular blogpost: 30 Benefits of Humor at Work.

These benefits focus mostly on the individual using the humor though, so what does an organization gain when they create a culture of humor?  Why should company leadership focus on humor and happiness at work?

“I have to run meetings, achieve productivity targets and manage my team, isn’t humor just a nice to have?” – your classic Manager.

“Well, do you want your team to have psychological safety, feel joy throughout an 8 hour work shift and stay loyal to the company longer?” – your friendly neighborhood Humor That Works Engineer.

A dose of humor can refresh, recharge and ignite creativity in your team, so work doesn’t feel like an endless cycle… ie, a literal hampster wheel.  Here are the benefits for organizations, backed by research, case studies and real-world examples.


10 Benefits of creating a Humor Culture


1. Increases employee engagement

“Managers who lead with levity benefit from higher levels of employee engagement and overall success.” 1

“They don’t believe in fun for fun’s sake, but fun that boosts creativity and very real employee engagement metrics.  In fact, for several years, Boeing-SVS consistently has been one of the top scoring sites at Boeing for employee engagement.” 1


2. Increases company loyalty

“Southwest is a fun brand that delivers focused value, and the flight attendants and pilots who crack jokes and entertain the passenger are not just putting on a show. They have been hired at Southwest because that sense of humor comes naturally to them.” 2

“Many companies (Southwest Airlines for example) have used humor as an employee retention tool.  It’s well known as part of the company culture. Herb Kelleher, founding CEO, has been known to dress up as Elvis, do the chicken dance and infuse humor even into the hiring process to ensure culture fit.” 3


3. Increases employee job satisfaction

“Supervisors’ use of humor was correlated positively with employee job satisfaction and workgroup cohesion, and… that organizations incorporate humor into the workplace in an attempt to reduce stress and increase solidarity and productivity.” 4

“Principals who share humor in the workplace have teachers with higher job satisfaction than those principals who share very little or no humor in the workplace.” 5


4. Increases employee productivity

“Research indicates that supportive and collaborative humor (analogous to self-enhancing and affiliative humor) were used by factory workers to make routine tasks interesting and to solidify close relationships.” 6

“The improved rapport, teamwork, and creativity resulting from humorous interactions will not only make for a more enjoyable work environment but will also translate into greater productivity and a better bottom line for the company. Articles extolling the benefits of humor in the workplace have appeared in numerous business magazines, trade journals and popular books.” 7


5. Prevents employee burnout

“Humor may reduce burnout by helping employees deal with difficult situations, release tension, regain perspective on their jobs and facilitate an optimistic reinterpretation of events.” 8

“Organizations may benefit from enhanced job performance and satisfaction as well as reduced costs associated with burnout, withdrawal and poor employee health.” 8


6. Reduces absenteeism

“Humor has also been associated with job satisfaction, reduced absenteeism, lower turnover intentions and higher organizational commitment.” 8

“Absenteeism is not experienced where humor is integrated to the teaching content. You want to be in class [at work] and enjoy. Humor makes learners to feel at home.” 9


7. Decreases employee turnover

“An increasing body of research demonstrates that when leaders lighten up and create a fun workplace, there is significant increase in the level of employee trust, creativity, and communication – leading to lower turnover, higher morale and a stronger bottom line.” 1

“If you look at it from a business standpoint, fun reduces turnover, gets people more engaged in the work, and increases productivity. It just makes good business sense. At Enterprise, every branch has a budget, a dollar amount for employee fun whether that’s an employee picnic or party or however they want to celebrate. Fun is a line item in the budget.” 1


8. Improves morale
 

“The use of humor in organizations has been associated with improving morale among workers, creating a more positive organizational culture, enhancing group cohesiveness, stimulating individual and group creativity and increasing motivation.” 10

“The use of humor has been described as motivating divergent, unconventional, creative, and innovative thinking.” 10


9. Creates a more positive work culture

“Research revealed that different types of organizations employ different types and amounts of humor. This suggests that humor is not only part of an organization’s culture, but also a distinctive feature that makes each organization’s culture unique.” 6

“The use of humor in organizations has been associated with improving morale among workers, creating a more positive organizational culture, enhancing group cohesiveness, stimulating individual and group creativity and increasing motivation.” 10


10. Increases profit

“In general, workplaces that encourage laughter have happier, healthier and more productive workers and, as a result, they see an increase in profits and results.” 11

  • Larry D Weas, Adult Education University Lecturer

Sources:

  1. The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up, Adrian Gostick. Wiley, April 2008.
  2. Focusing on Employee Engagement, Pat Cataldo. UNC Kenan Flagler, 2011.
  3. Keeping Good Employees on Board, Dawn McCooey. Morgan James, 2010.
  4. The Psychology of Humor at Work, Christopher Robert. Routledge, 2017.
  5. The effects of principals’ humor on teachers’ job satisfaction, B Lee Hurren. Educational Studies, 2006.
  6. The use of humor in the workplace, Eric J Romero. Academy of Management Perspectives, 2006.
  7. The Psychology of Humour, Rod A Martin. Elsevier Academic Press, University of Western Ontario, 2007.
  8. A meta-analysis of positive humor in the workplace, Jessica Mesmer-Magnus, David J. Glew, Chockalingam Viswesvaran. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 2012.
  9. Humor: A pedagogical tool to promote learning, Mary Chabeli. University of Johannesburg, SA. 2006.
  10. A funny thing happened on the way to the bottom line, Bruce J Avolio, Jane M Howell, John J Sosik.
  11. Using Humor in HRD & Training, Larry D Weas, Northern Illinois University

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