Success in the office is no laughing matter. Or is it? According to a new survey by Robert Half, seventy-three per cent of Canadian CFOs interviewed said an employee’s sense of humour is at least somewhat important for fitting into the company’s corporate culture, with 12 per cent stating humour is very important!

“A lighthearted, fun work environment helps boost staff morale, and cultivate positive relationships between colleagues,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps, a Robert Half company. “Incorporating humour into the workplace encourages a more collaborative culture, which can improve overall productivity and engagement.”

“Some company matters are more serious in nature, but with the right tone, a little laugh can recover a tense moment,” added Hunnam-Jones. “Light jokes may help diffuse a situation or mishap, keeping people at ease and focused on more important business concerns.”

How can you use your sense of humour in the workplace? These three tips can help.

1. Don’t take yourself too seriously

It is always easiest and safest to show humour by poking fun at oneself. This will make you more approachable and easier for people to work with.

Avoid trying to be funny if it doesn’t come naturally, though. Having a sense of humour is about maintaining the proper perspective, regardless of the situation, not firing off one-liners.

2. Laugh with your coworkers — but never at them

Hearty group laughter can reduce stress, improve health and help foster good working relationships. At the same time, targeting others for a chuckle isn't fun at all. Watch the sarcasm, which can be interpreted as demeaning or insulting, and it can actually increase stress.

3. Keep it appropriate

We hope it goes without saying, but it bears repeating: Topics like race, gender, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, religion and disabilities are off-limits. Also skip negative humour, which can be defined as any joke that is at the expense of another person, organization or group of people.

And, no matter how tempting it may be, don’t forward emails containing jokes, “funny” images or videos. You never know what an employee may consider offensive, and taking a chance something will provoke laughter just isn’t worth the risk.

Laughter as a management tool

While some bosses may be concerned about showing their lighter side to an employee, the ability to smile or have some fun is a valuable asset in the workplace. Humour, appropriately used, diffuses stressful situations, gets folks smiling and creates a positive buzz.”

Your good temperament and ability to maintain a stress free (or at least stress reduced) workplace will make people want to work for you. They’ll also be more confident coming to you when they need help and in times of crisis. In addition, you’ll be more likely to establish your company as an attractive employer and boost retention.