Indira Gandhi was not known for her sense of humour, but she did occasionally break the mould. On one occasion, she remarked, “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” She could easily have been speaking of a corporate office. In today’s world awash with economic gloom, most boardrooms and offices seem to be lacking fun and laughter. It may not be all that appropriate, but numerous studies have shown the connection between humour and performance. “People like you better if they find you funny. They will also think you are smarter,” according to Scott Adams, the man who created the hugely popular syndicated cartoon Dilbert. Tom Peters, motivational guru, believes that infusing more humour into the workplace increases creativity, teamwork and, ultimately, productivity. “The reality is that the best people are attracted to working environments where there is an element of fun. If good people are placed in an environment that is impersonal, cold and unfriendly for an extended period of time, that is how they will eventually behave,” he wrote.
Most motivational corporate leaders will inject a sense of levity into their speeches when addressing their employees just to lighten the atmosphere. “A company is known by the people it keeps” is one favourite, while another one more appropriate for the economic downturn goes, “The light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off due to austerity measures”. Jokes apart, there is enough research to prove just how important humour in the workplace can be. Some examples:
A Robert Half international survey found that 91% of executives believe a sense of humour is important for career advancement, while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humour do a better job.
Another study by the Bell Leadership Institute found that the two most desirable traits in leaders were a strong work ethic and a good sense of humour.
A survey sponsored by an international temporary service agency found that a majority of senior executives believe that people