How To Grow Your Business with Humor

Photo courtesy of  Andy-Eskha

Guest Post by Misa Chien

They say laughter is the best medicine. But did you know you can grow your business with humor?

Michael Kerr is the author of The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. He works to empower leaders to improve company culture through increasing the energy level of employees.

Kerr’s work empowers leaders to grow their business with humor. “In all my previous work experience, as a manager, as a leader, I was always known for my sense of humor,” he says. “I saw the benefits of humor in the workplace.”

After being in a position where the company culture seemed draining and unexciting, Kerr focused on the use of humor in building up a more energized culture. “That’s when I had this ‘aha’ moment and realized that I think there’s a lot more to this humor than just a nice to have,” he says.

He began by researching and attending conferences of how to use humor to improve company culture. Now he helps lead business leaders implement those valuable tactics he’s learned to grow their business.

Less Stress and More Success

In his book, Kerr has a chapter that introduces the importance of lowered stress levels is connected to more success.

Stress strongly influences employee retention.

“I think the pace of change has gotten so crazy,” he says. There are a number of contributing factors to stress in life: caring for family, technology, work, leisure. “And I think a lot of the stress in so many workplaces is from poor leadership where they don’t feel valued or appreciated,” he says.

The solution: Laughter

So how can companies deal with this level of unnecessary stress? Kerr’s solution is simple: laughter.

“It’s a fun solution at the same time,” he says. “We know from research that laughter is one of the most effective ways of relaxing us. Just from a physical response, we know laughter can ease stress.”

But the benefits of laughter don’t just stop at the internal level. Laughter and a good attitude can help us build networks and relationships at the workplace. “It creates an environment where we want to work together as a team,” he says.

He also adds that humor helps employees reframe what are perceived as problems into a more realistic perspective. “We do have to remind ourselves that stress is in the eye of the beholder. It’s not the things that happen at work that stress us out, it is our interpretation of those things that is the source of stress.”

Humor allows people to lighten up and enjoy life, both at work and home.

Types of Healthy Humor

Certain types of humor fair better in the workplace than others. The type of humor used is connected to how effective and influential it will be among leadership and coworkers.  

“Everything that I’m talking about in the book is about good and safe humor – humor that laughs with people, not at people,” he says. “Humor that tears down barriers, not humor that builds barriers; that laughs in the supportive, creative ideas as opposed to humor that laughs at people’s suggestions and ideas.”

Grow your business with humor that encourages and builds others up.

The two kinds of humor to implement that lead to increased mood and company growth are affiliative humor and self-enhancing humor.

Kerr describes affiliative humor as, “the tendency to tell jokes, make humorous observations and say funny things as a way to reduce tensions in the workplace, to facilitate relationships,” he says.

Self-enhancing humor, he says, “It’s about having a humorous outlook. It’s about keeping one’s sense of humor in the face of stress.”

Practicing these styles of humor greatly improves the attitudes of the workplace at all levels.

The other styles of humor, aggressive humor and self-defeating humor, shouldn’t be used to boost company culture.

Laughter Leads to Longterm Growth

So laughter supports a positive company culture. How can you grow your business with humor?

“What we know from so much research…we know that culture is a key driver of business success,” he says. “It is what drives our success. We know it’s your number one competitive advantage.”

Some other benefits of laughter in company culture he mentions:

  • Lower employee turnover
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Increased sales
  • Improved customer service
  • Lower presenteeism

Goals are essential to business, but those goals should also be accomplished within the context of having fun and enjoying the ride.

“Great cultures don’t just happen,” he says. “Everybody says they’re great, but there’s a difference between saying and doing. And what the great companies do so well is they’re intentional about their culture. They recognize that you can’t just buy your culture; you have to build it day in and day out.”

To encourage others to join in on your culture, create engaging content and advertisements that demonstrate the fun they want to attract in hiring talent. To grow your business with humor, it all comes down to culture.


Michael Kerr’s business, Humor At Work

The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing All the Way to the Bank  


Misa is one of the authors behind Praiseworthy, a customer service blog specializing in helping businesses improve their online reputation and employee training.  To get great content such as how to get google reviews for your business or subscribe to get a free weekly customer service quote, you can subscribe our blog here.

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