Joking and generally having fun at work can increase productivity and employee engagement. It may reduce stress, build harmonious relationships, improve teamwork, promote creativity, aid communication and reduce absenteeism…who would want to miss out on some enjoyable activity at work?

But remember the less than hilarious Joker from Batman lore? Described as an anarchist and an agent of chaos…his example reminds us that there is good reason to bear in mind that clearly, not all jokes are funny to all people.

Numerous studies have shown that employees who enjoy their workplaces are more productive. Having fun at work does not mean neglecting your duties. It simply means having fun while you carry them out.

We all spend so much of our time at work it is important to enjoy it as much as we can while we are there. There are countless simple ways to have fun at work. People send inspirational emails or clips, share tea breaks together or create awards to celebrate each other’s successes. It doesn’t need to be expensive or intrusive to arrange.

But there can be a downside to having fun on the job. What one person thinks is fun, or funny, may offend or even upset another colleague. This is particularly true where people of diverse backgrounds, values, or cultures work together. Telling jokes can be very entertaining. Sharing a laugh brings employees together, but it is important to be mindful of those your humour might alienate or hurt. Most people feel pain if something that is important to them is trivialised by a joke. Don’t become the reckless Joker. It is okay to have fun and make each other laugh at work. Try to keep in mind however how valuable it is to be thoughtful about how you do that.

Before you tell a joke, make sure:

  • Your joke is not about a controversial topic. So avoid jokes about religion, politics, sex, gender, or groups of people. The weather, movies and sports are usually safe subjects.
  • You are not using humour to get at someone. If your joke is about anyone, that person should be you.
  • There are no hidden agendas in your joke. If you are trying to make a point, it is always best to do it directly, not with a joke.
  • You are not going to tell a joke that could offend anyone or make someone uncomfortable. If you’re not sure, keep your joke to yourself.

So have fun at work, you will be more productive, enhance your relationships, and find yourself less stressed. Just try to follow the above guidelines to make sure everyone else is having as good a time as you are.