Humor is one of the most valuable elements of the workplace. Rib ticklers can reduce stress in a tense situation and can lighten the atmosphere. Indeed, many workplaces can become more productive if the manager or some other colleague can come up with a lively joke to enliven the spirits.
This said, the essence of good humor is that it has to be good, meaning it has to be timely and inoffensive. This is the most vital quality of humor. How many of us like a joke that is badly executed or one that hurts? If a person has a handicap and a joke is centered round it, it becomes hurtful. This is when humor loses is sheen and becomes noxious.
Many employees are in the habit of lacing their humor with acridity and sarcasm. Some people do it out of innocence, but some others do it with the wanton purpose of chiding a person. In either case, the damage is done, because the colleague who is at the receiving end of the joke feels hurt nevertheless. In that painful moment, it is difficult to distinguish between a harmless joke and a malevolent one.
HR has a role
HR has a role to play in curtailing such behavior from some of its employees. It should first find out who among the employees are in the habit of cracking insensitive jokes. It needs to haul up such employees by explaining to them the effect of their trait. They should be made to understand that the workplace is not the place in which they can give their erratic nature a free rein.
A delicate task for HR
This is not going to be very easy, and most employees in the first place don’t accept the fact that their humor ever hurts. HR will have a tough time especially, in convincing those good-meaning employees whose only intention was to lighten a situation, but ended up doing something else.
HR is faced with a delicate task, because when they ask such harmless employees to mend their ways; they risk alienating and hurting them back. Many employees take these admonitions so seriously that they stop this habit, even if their jokes could sometimes be fun to have in the office. To avoid this, HR has to be sure about which among the employees has a genuine intention with jokes, and who doesn’t.
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