Many employees use humor at work to lighten the mood, make the job more fun, or to bond with coworkers. Can you imagine a workplace with no humor? I’ve been lucky to never be a part of one of those! Generally, humor is a good thing. However, there are certain situations where that is not the case. Today we talk about the positives and negatives of humor and work-life conflict.
Humor at Work
First, let’s talk about how important humor can actually be in the workplace. Research shows humor is associated with a lot of positive outcomes at work – both if the employee themself has a sense of humor and/or if they think their leader does.
When an employee uses humor, they are less likely to experience burnout or report stress. They are also more likely to feel healthy and cope well with challenges. These funny employees also tend to have higher work performance and are more connected to their team members.
Leaders can also use their humor to improve the employee experience. Leaders that use humor effectively can increase their team members’ job satisfaction and performance. They are also seen as better performing and employees are more satisfied working with humorous leaders. Overall, being amusing and comedic at work can have major benefits.
Coping with Work-Life Conflict
Many people use humor as a way to cope through a challenging time. When employees are facing a lot of challenges meeting both their work and life demands, they often feel stressed and overwhelmed. We know that, right now, with the pandemic and new remote working environments, we are dealing with a lot more challenges in the work-life balance arena.
One recent study looked at how humor and work-life conflict work together. Let’s start with the good news. Employees that use humor as a coping mechanism for work-life conflict are less stressed! So what should you do? Make some jokes about the challenges you are facing. Watch funny videos poking fun at the stresses of balancing work and life. Try to find the humor in your situation.
When Coworker Jokes Go Wrong
However, there is some bad news from this study. If you are using humor to cope with your challenges, keep it up. But, if you are using humor about your coworker’s or team member’s work-life challenges, stop! When others at work chime in and make jokes about work-life conflict, it actually makes the person feel worse. They also saw their coworkers as less supportive of them.
Luckily, the solution is easy. Don’t make light of someone else’s situation – even if they do it themselves. It’s kind of like how you can make fun of your own little sister but no one else can. As a person listening to a coworker’s joke, you can politely laugh. But it’s much better to say something supportive or offer to provide help than make additional jokes yourself.
If you are the one facing the stressful situation, figure out when to tell your jokes. Maybe only joke about your work-life conflict with your friends or family. Or, figure out which coworkers are more likely to jump in and support when you make a joke instead of continuing the joke. Knowing that coworkers’ jokes can make things worse for you, make a plan on how to use humor to cope that won’t make things worse.
Overall, the takeaway is to use humor smartly. Bring it into the workplace and reap some major benefits – just be careful what you are joking about!