Why humour is good for the Employee Experience

November 6, 2018



We all have in mind the image or stereotype of the effective/efficient person. That pattern is not necessarily the ideal, but the most shared.


Usually the effective person is associated with the following characteristics: reliability, rigor, efficiency, productivity, control and other qualities like that. All of them are undoubtedly very appreciable, but what about humour? Is a sense of humour compatible with efficiency/effectiveness at work?


The ability to communicate, to influence others and to learn/teach are among the most valued qualities today. A sense of humour helps inestimably to develop all these abilities. HR consultants have been observing that people who are successful in the workplace have a good mood, at least sometimes.


A sense of humour constitutes a personal response to a situation of perplexity or sudden rupture of the balance. It is an attitude, a way of being, that can be reflected in a laugh but that, in reality, is a personal approach to the situations that life presents to us.




The coincidence is that a sense of humour greatly facilitates the understanding between people.

Just as a speaker uses ingenuity in his/her lectures to capture and maintain the attention of listeners more easily, humour can also be used to communicate our ideas effectively.


Introducing a sense of humour in a conversation or negotiation creates a more relaxed atmosphere, reduces communication barriers and allows us to speak in a more open and frank manner. This was one of the keys to the positive influence of Nelson Mandela: he knew how to make meetings pleasant, no matter how thorny the issues were.




A fun person almost always tends to be more accepted and, therefore, interlocutors are more receptive to embrace his/her ideas.


In general, sociologists agree that there is a greater willingness to accept the messages and suggestions presented in a pleasant environment and, consequently, it is easier to reach an agreement in these conditions.


On the other hand, laughter is contagious, like yawning. An ingenious reaction helps to overcome embarrassing situations by avoiding confrontation and breakdown. Who has not gone through the experience of a funny reaction of one of the participants who broke the tension and relaxed the spirits in a committed moment of a meeting?




Good humour helps to learn: a pleasant story is more easily remembered than a tedious one.

Facing mistakes with a sense of humour - always with the necessary weight - makes us more understanding of others. Knowing how to turn a mistake into an opportunity for improvement, removing weight is more human and helps the correction to be well accepted; let's not forget that learning is fundamentally empirical, that is, based on practice and experience. 


Laugh at ourselves- from time to time - is a good exercise that helps us overcome arrogance and helps people to know each other better.



Companies are beginning to consider, in their proper measure, the importance of a sense of humour within their organizations. In a study conducted by the American consulting firm Hodge Cronin & Associates, which included 737 senior executives, it was revealed that 98 percent of them would hire a person with a sense of humour rather than someone who did not.


Humour and imagination go hand in hand, so that only the latter can decide in what way and to what degree laughter and fun are part of our workday. The limit only marks the respect to others; therefore sarcasm and the destructive ironies are discarded.


In many companies, the importance of "feel good factor at work" is increasingly mentioned and it seems evident that a sense of humour helps enormously to achieve it. It can also be, why not, one more factor to consider when building a good “Employee Experience”.


As humourist Bob Ross said: "A business leader with no sense of humor is like a lawn mower at a cemetery: they both have lots of people underneath them, but no one is paying them any attention".

Even NASA has declared that a sense of humour is one of the personality traits that they value most when recruiting astronauts, since they believe that candidates who prove to be fun are more flexible, more creative and more able to react positively to stressful situations.


Asking the candidates in a selection interview to tell us a joke or a funny story is no nonsense, as it provides the interviewer with a lot of valuable information. This practice is an excellent icebreaker, since it gives us an idea of ​​how they react, how nice they can become, how comfortable and self-confident they feel, about their reaction to an unexpected situation, to what extent their answers may be the elegant or gross, etc.


A sense of humour in the business world is profitable, there is no doubt. Among the many reasons, we could list two of true weight: 1) having a sense of humour does not involve any cost to the company, it is free and 2) a lack of a sense of humour does not generate any surplus value.



In addition, time is saved and the reflex mechanisms of problem solving are allowed to work.

Creativity often arises from humour. It is normal, since breaking the preconceived schemes allows us to see things differently and opens our minds to find new ideas and solutions. Minds are like parachutes, they function better when they are open.


It is widely believed that a fine sense of humour is a clear and unequivocal sign of a high degree of intelligence.


But we should not associate having a sense of humour with going to the company telling jokes at all times, imitating our favorite comedian or taking our lives as a joke. Laughing at everything is typical of fools, but not laughing at anything can be presumed foolish.

With humour, the important thing is to enjoy yourself, what you do or think; what seems certain is that life is sometimes too serious and bland not to add a "pinch of salt" from time to time.


So, it seems that there are many advantages. But doctors also say that facing problems with good humour is good for health, relaxes tension, reduces stress and, above all, makes us more human. Who has seen an animal that laughs ... apart from the hyenas?


Hector Suarez is an official WEEI Partner for Spain and Portugal. 


Hector has extensive experience working with multinational and national companies to develop the holistic employee experience. 


Delivering EX projects in Spain and internationally, Hector believes that to create a thriving workforce, a successful business and happy customers, we need to start with employees.

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