Want to enjoy work? This quality could be key to your next promotion

We talk about EQ and IQ at workplace. How about developing HQ?

By Sanjeev Pradhan Roy

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Published: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 4:55 PM

Last updated: Sat 9 Dec 2023, 9:18 AM

It’s a common refrain: “Please don’t try humour at work, more often than not, the joke is on you!”

Humour? Seriously?

Research suggests that managers with a sense of humour were rated as highly as 23 per cent more respected, 25 per cent more pleasant to work with and 17 per cent friendlier. Organisations that embed humour as part of their work culture point to employees who were 16 per cent more likely to stay at their jobs, feel engaged and experience satisfaction. Humour at work also accelerates trust, stimulates creativity, fosters psychological safety and increases ability to cope better with stress. Hence HQ (humour quotient) is as important as IQ, SQ (social quotient) and EQ (emotional quotient)put together, and is the next management panacea.

The importance of humour stems from the fact that the phenomenon of connecting, laughing and being able to find joy collectively are true catalysts of productivity. More leaders are now apprised on their increasing need for EQ and empathy, for authenticity, vulnerability that allows others to get to know you and the humility that often comes with the ability to laugh at yourself and release the pressure of corporate life.

To drive HQ in the workplace, levity or frivolity is a mindset change and that nurtures a positive culture and creates social cohesion. The virtues can be extended to leaders and managers who are anchored in purpose and fuelled by humour. The art of using humour is not about putting people down but lifting them up with new opportunities through work. Purposeful and fun-loving leaders are in vogue today and through those positive emotions, they are able to navigate work better, be more self-aware and be more productive.

Culture is an important attribute in this journey; workplaces that encourage people to be themselves are less hierarchical and more innovative, and are likely get a resonance in breaking silos. People who are relaxed open up more to the cultural and social side.

Paradoxically, there are many workplaces where employees consciously tone down their humour element with the desire to be taken more seriously. The outcome is curiously strange as people who turn out to be serious are not taken too seriously by their team.

Research suggests that employees are more comfortable using humour with peers and colleagues rather than their reporting managers, lest they be construed differently. The fear of offending someone; a fear of not being funny and lack of time are some factors impacting mass adoption.

A Robert Half International Survey found that 91 per cent of executives believed that humour is important for career advancement while 84 per cent feel that people with a good sense of humour perform better at work. Interestingly, a study done by Leadership Institute found that the stand-out traits in leaders were a strong work ethic and a good sense of humour.

Humour at work also helps break ice with varied stakeholders, create better acceptance in conflict management and negotiations by shifting from convergent thinking with one solution to divergent thinking with multiple options. It humanises business transactions and impacts winnability.

A popular author surmises that Ha + Ha = aha! moments of creativity that encourage new ideas, lower internal criticism and help to see things through a new lens.

Moving forward, let’s start with a Chief Fun Officer rather than a Chief Executive Officer, shall we?



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