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Fun at work matters!

Psychology Today records laughter as the most contagious of human emotions . If you really want to influence others, bring laughter, that will do the trick.

I have a personal dream that a manager’s objectives appraised in the PDR include how much laughter he or she was able to generate. I can think of a few managers I have worked for (and no doubt you have worked for too) who would quickly be out of a job.

We have a major challenge with humour at work in that a lot of workplace humour is based on what we might call ‘banter’. This is the language of the race, the traditional jokes and teases that go with the territory of the job. The problem we have is that the territory has rapidly changed, and traditional banter can be seen as divisive whereas before it was seen as the glue that held the team together. Banter traditionally gave a sense of identity, of ‘us and them’. In today’s open and more tolerant society, that approach doesn’t work. Banter needs to be inclusive without being offensive.!

It's no joke!

Laughter is good for you and your team!


I have been working recently with a construction company that has problems as a result of these changes. Humour is drying up. People are so afraid of offending someone they have become extremely cautious about what they laugh at. That most infectious of human emotions (according to Psychology Today) is finding fewer situations in the workplace where it can be expressed.

I would strongly recommend that managers take this situation seriously. (or is that a contradiction in terms). We need laughter to bond, and if it is becoming more difficult to let laughter run its course, perhaps it’s time that laughter needs to be put on the team meeting agenda.

 how to motivate staff to increase productivity Annie Ives is ex-Global Head of Learning at the FT, Annie regularly supports executives in achieving organisational improvement.


Asking the team about how create more laughter in the workplace is a great initiative for a manager to take. As a result of the workshops in the construction industry that we have been running, managers have been holding discussions on that very topic. Discussions like this, and openly asking how we can enjoy banter without offence, tends to bring the team together in finding a solution. It shows the team that the manager genuinely wants enjoyment at work. In my opinion, it is part of the ‘well being’ topic which is very hot at the moment in U.K. industry. It’s a topic we all need to get a handle on and also importantly supports millennial engagement at work.

Download our free eBrief for some thoughts on Fun in the workplace. Distribute to the team and maybe have a discussion about it.  Go on. Have a laugh!


Click here for your free Fun at Work e-Brief