Seriously – you need to laugh more. Business author and Purple Cubed founder, Jane Sunley explores how humour at work can help business right now. This blog is for any business leader who would like to improve their chances of success in the current climate.
It takes a 40-year-old 10 weeks to laugh as much as a four-year-old does in a single day. That’s 300 times if you’re interested. This, according to a new study and subsequent book, by two Stanford University lecturers, is because the average person experiences a ‘sense of humour failure’ aged 23, co-incidentally the age when most of us settle down into a serious role. Does work trigger a sense of humour failure?
It’s often said the ‘laughter is the best medicine’, perhaps this originated as far back as the 14th Century when humour was introduced as a form of post-operative therapy. If you’re not convinced, just look at this baby unknowingly having a potentially painful vaccination.
You’ll already appreciate that there’s a strong mind-body connection, which makes laughter an important part of the leader’s toolkit. It can not only significantly improve wellbeing by helping to alleviate stress though also contributes to job satisfaction, productivity, creativity, collaboration, and team bonding. It helps build trust, boosts morale and contributes towards a positive culture. It can even elevate the pain threshold, break a cycle of sleep loss and even help with depression. If you want the science, in brief this is because it decreases stress hormones, boosts immune cells and antibodies and releases those feel-good chemicals, endorphins.
A survey by Hodge Cronin showed that an incredible 98% of executives prefer employees who can laugh and 84% believe that people with a sense of humour do better work.
Humour is a tricky subject. Enforced fun is often worse than no fun and what one person finds amusing and enriching perhaps wouldn’t appeal to another. So, if you’re up for introducing more humour at work, start small and then build on this. Here are a few ideas:
- Be kind – taking the pressure off means people will be more receptive
- Be positive and smile
- Introduce laugh lunches/other socially distanced socials
- Walk, dance, sing, play, talk, watch a funny movie together
- Look for the humour in everyday situations, especially the setbacks
- Journal/share/tell the funny stories that make up the fabric of your organisation/team
- Share fun stuff for on demand consumption e.g. via a digital hub rather than clogging up comms channels
- Be receptive to others’ humour
- Avoid enforced fun – it’s usually not funny
- Keep it appropriate – try this quiz to find out your humour style
The pandemic has already created such havoc; don’t let it steal our humour…