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The Benefits of Workplace Humor – A Quick Guide for Employers


As an employer, you may feel uneasy at the prospect of bringing humor into the workplace in how you interact with your employees. But humor can create a better work environment and encourage better relationships with your employees, if done in a work-appropriate way. Here are some benefits of bringing humor into your workplace and tips on how to do it.

1. Create a more comfortable environment for employees.

Humor in the workplace can increase employee-boss relationships, making it more comfortable for them to come to you with problems that may go otherwise unaddressed. In interviews, this can also help ease the tension and create a more comfortable interviewing space for potential employees, putting them at ease and making a lasting impression.

How to do this: Come up with a fun way to get to know employees or interviewees — try playing Two Truths and a Lie, or for a little extra fun, switch it up to Two Lies and a Truth.

2. Help set positive norms and create empathy.

Humor in the workplace can go wrong quickly, so by setting an example of what humor is acceptable, you are setting positive norms for employees. Get advice from your HR manager on where to set boundaries so that you are confident your humor is always acceptable. And be quick to apologize if you notice that your humor is not well received, creating an empathetic space.

How to do this: Make sure to set boundaries. In a group setting, try establishing what to avoid beforehand. If someone seems uncomfortable with a joke you make, immediately apologize and set the situation right. This sets a great example for employees and sets the tone for your workplace.

3. Build unity within the workplace.

Humor is a fun way for employees to build relationships and good rapport with one another. This can create a better sense of unity in the workplace, which can help with office morale and even employee retention. It can also create a great impression of your workplace on newer employees, encouraging them to be part of the workplace culture sooner and building a strong team of staff.

How to do this: Try an improv exercise with your employees. Improv is great for humor but can also build creativity and confidence in employees. Find your own prompts with a quick Google search or consider bringing in an improv team to do an exercise with your staff.

4. Set a tone of calm control and humility.

When you are able to find humor in a challenging situation or a mistake that you’ve made, you show your employees that you have a calm sense of control over the workplace and that you have humility. This creates a great work environment that promotes more honesty, collaboration, and responsibility among employees for when they have their own challenges or mistakes. Having a sense of humor about mistakes can also help employees feel more at ease and have a better work experience.

How to do this: Try something like remixing company jargon (we all know the terms!) in a joke. This can help employees understand that you are self-aware and also puts you more on their level, creating a better atmosphere of equality among staff.

5. Increase staff participation and involvement.

Imagine your entire staff opening and reading your company-wide email the whole way through. While we can’t guarantee that will happen, humor is shown to help increase staff participation and investment in what is happening throughout a company. Adding some humor to your emails or your weekly meetings will encourage staff to be involved, even though it’s not the most exciting thing.

How to do this: Be consistent! Share a funny story at the beginning of the weekly meetings, and give a few minutes for anyone else to share as well. Start your emails off with a joke about something happening in the workplace (not at anyone’s expense, though!), which will encourage staff to read the rest of the email. Whatever you do, keep doing it to show staff that it’s not just a gimmick.

We hope these tips on bringing humor into the workplace will help you create a more unified, productive, and relaxed environment for your workplace!


For more resources for employers, reach out to JFCS Employer Relations Specialist Shawnte’ Knox at sknox@jfcspgh.org or 412-463-3373.