Humour at work is a serious matter.
Get it right and you can enhance morale, cement relationships and boost productivity. Get it wrong and you can alienate an entire workforce.
Using humour in internal communication makes messages more accessible and humanises speakers, making them easier to engage with.
The level and type of humour should be proportional to an organisation’s values, but a blanket ban on humour in internal communication should never be applied – even in the most formal environment.
According to Stephanie Davis, CEO of consultancy and development company Laughology, the key to effective workplace humour is timing.
“Anything about pay structures, redundancies, or anything that is very emotive, I’d say steer away from humour,” she said.
“But when you’re talking about things like values, a new vision, or trying to engage people in a different way of thinking, that’s when humour works really well.
“People don’t take in that much of the information we receive, unless there’s something in there that we want to know about.
“That’s the challenge with internal comms; we’re all so busy that we don’t tend to look at information unless it’s giving us something we already know we’re looking for.
“Humour is a great way of interrupting that cognitive flow and making people pay attention, because it connects into our emotional brain.
“For leaders, using humour is a really positive way to engage with people because it helps people see that there’s a human being leading them, especially if that humour is directed at yourself, rather than other people because in that way it can’t ever be offensive.
“Before you put any message out the most important thing is to have a group of people and test it out so you can avoid some of those faux pas. But if in doubt, don’t say it! That’s the biggest rule.
“If you can use humour in any kind of way within internal communication – a sketch, writing something in a fun, upbeat way, using cartoons – it can be really effective.”
For more information on Laughology, visit www.laughology.co.uk