Posted on 22nd December 2016 by Jon Terry

Should You Hold Back the Humour in the Office?

Should You Hold Back the Humour in the Office?

Some people say that humour is the key to success - obviously that humour must be tasteful and not inappropriate or offensive - and I’m sure you are probably wondering why?

Well, being humorous in the workplace has a wide range of benefits. For example, it brings more fun to the office, the atmosphere tends to rise, and if you’re there 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, you want it to be in an upbeat environment - somewhere enjoyable.

Recent research suggests that there is a strong relationship between humour and status in the workplace. If you’re assertive enough to tell jokes and make people laugh, people are more likely to see you as confident and will want to be in your company.

So, does this mean if you’re funny, you are more likely to keep a job role for longer? We’ll let you decide.

It’s a risky business

Most people tend to tone down their humour at work. Of course they would, it’s hard to do well and easy to get wrong and cause offence. Plus, we tend to take ourselves far too seriously, especially in a professional environment.

People are under the illusion that if you tone down your humour (and in some cases, hold back your personality) you will be taken more seriously. However, this typically backfires and those trying to get taken more seriously end up being pushed to the side and completely dismissed.

It’s very common that in the first few months of your role you will hold back, as you’re unfamiliar with how the workplace functions, what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Your humour may be taken the wrong way, so to avoid this you dismiss being humorous all together, and by the time you’ve settled, you’ve faded into the background.

Why not try and inject some humour into your office? - making sure it's at the appropriate time and is tasteful. Try to get the ball rolling and create a more enjoyable environment, but remember, you don't need to be funny all the time, you’re not a professional comedian (unless you are a professional comedian, in which case - carry on).

Humour gets you further

There are many benefits humour has, especially in terms of your status in the office, for example:

It helps others relax

Humour is the perfect way to break tension and will help you not take things too seriously, especially in terms of personal comments and opinions in the workplace. Humour offers a cognitive shift in how you respond emotionally and your body physically relaxes when you laugh.

Others will enjoy your presence

You spend at least 35 hours in the office each week so, of course you are going to want to spend that time with someone who you enjoy being around, someone who can help you relax and see the funny side to negative situations. However, you must make sure you are funny, but not in a cynical, arrogant manner.

It’ll boost office productivity

As we’ve already identified, humour creates an upbeat atmosphere which helps boost creativity, interaction and thinking outside the box. You’ll gain more passion and motivation for what you do and your work ethic will increase.

Let your personality show

The moral of the story is… just be yourself. If you are someone that likes to be funny (or at least tries to be) then don’t hold back (maybe just a little bit). If you want to get the most out of your job and enjoy the experience then it is important to be yourself.

Remember though, If you have a particularly twisted sense of humour, or your colleagues don't have a sense of humour at all, or if one of their dogs has just died, then maybe hold back on the jokes.

Wright Solutions have over fourteen years experience in the HR sector and work personally to provide high-calibre candidates for specialist roles in human resources and learning and development.

Please feel free to call us on 0121 222 5599 for an informal discussion or send us an email to

Jon Terry

By Jon Terry

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