Laughter in the Workplace Can Boost Productivity—and Make You Seem More Competent
In case you needed further proof that laughter is good for you, author and former corporate sales executive Betty-Ann Heggie writes in the Harvard Business Review that science supports laughter in the presence of company—coworkers included. Cracking jokes may improve your performance at work and make you better-liked by colleagues, according to researchers.
One experiment in 2016 found that employees who had chuckled at a comedy video clip were 10 percent more productive than coworkers who hadn’t. Productivity, in this case, was measured by the number of addition problems they could correctly solve in 10 minutes in a lab setting. “The broad message from the literature on the link between happiness and productivity is that both positive and negative emotions have a potentially powerful economic effect,” University of Bristol researcher Eugenio Proto writes.
Some companies have even started hiring humor coaches to relieve stress at work and encourage a collaborative environment, according to a 2017 Singapore Management University study spotted by MarketWatch.
Not only could laughing at work help you become a better worker bee, but it may even make you seem more competent, suggests a 2016 study titled “Risky Business: When Humor Increases and Decreases Status” [PDF]. Harvard Business School professor Alison Wood Brooks and two other researchers conducted eight experiments and concluded that the successful use of humor can actually increase an employee’s perceived status. In one experiment, presenters who made jokes were “perceived as more competent, more confident, and higher in status,” Brooks wrote.
Cracking inappropriate jokes (think Michael Scott from The Office) can harm status, but on the other hand, jokes that are bad but appropriate (think dad jokes) may still help the speaker come off as confident.
So go ahead, make a corny quip or let out a laugh. It might be exactly what your office needs.
[h/t Harvard Business Review]