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The Science Behind Bringing Humor to Work

Creating a culture that embraces humor can spur creativity, authenticity and psychological safety, allowing people to form connections and perform at their best.

Why should humor be part of your toolkit?

  • Leaders with a sense of humor are 27% more motivating and admired.
  • Teams that laugh together are more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge.
  • Employees who experience a giggle now and then are 16% more likely to stay at their jobs, feel engaged and experience satisfaction.

Research shows the benefits of bringing humor to work includes a deeper trust between leaders and workers, and greater job satisfaction. It also spurs more engagement and creativity by enhancing physical and mental well-being.

Laughter has both short- and long-term effects that enhance physical and mental welfare. A laugh can lighten your load, reduce stress and induce physical changes in your body.

Studies have shown that the health benefits of laughter are all-encompassing. It can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness and even increase immunity.

Short-term benefits may include:

  • Stimulating  organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases endorphins released by your brain.
  • Activating and relieving your stress response. A spirited laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response. It can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result is a good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothing tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term benefits may include:

  • Improving your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, laughter triggers positive thoughts that can release neuropeptides that help fight stress and, potentially, more serious illnesses.
  • Relieving pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
  • Increasing personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improving mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen stress associated with depression and can also improve self-esteem.

Here are some activities that spur laughter.

  • Share a funny story, photo, greeting card, meme or favorite video with a co-worker and enjoy a good laugh together.
  • Ask staff to write down funny moments and drop them into a designated jar; share them as a group.
  • Insert funny, relevant pictures into a PowerPoint presentation.

Learn more about the impact of laughter on your well-being in this Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being webinar. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll find past sessions and resources.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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