Were you the class clown in school? We’re guessing it got you banished to the back of the class. But according to a recent study, cracking jokes in the office with your co-workers could help you get ahead in the office, as humor can actually make the workplace more productive.
The researchers behind the study, Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock, a professor of psychology at VU University Amsterdam and Joseph A. Allen, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska, took a look at several German companies. They recorded 54 “regular organizational team meetings” and then tracked them to find the patterns of jokes and laughter.
With those observations, along with performance reviews from the employee’s managers after the meetings (as well as a later time), the professors found that “humor patterns triggered positive socioemotional communication, procedural structure, and new solutions.” Meaning that what you thought was just kidding around and simple camaraderie could actually lead to more creativity and innovation in everyone’s work. This improved team performance, both in the present time and two years later.
However, the researchers found that there were a couple of caveats. It wasn’t just jokes or laughter that contributed to the positive reviews, but rather a group rapport that led to the humor patterns: joke, laughter, another joke. Additionally, when job security wasn’t an issue, Lehmann-Willenbrock and Allen found that “humor patterns were positively related to performance but during times of higher job insecurity, humor played less of a role in in the team performance."