40 Hours of Fun


We have serious responsibilities to use tax payer dollars wisely, deliver programs fairly and on time, and much more. There are laws, budgets, and deadlines to adhere to. There are shutdowns looming in the (rapidly approaching) future. There are the unknown elements like what will change post-election in 2016. Add all of these to the regular office dramas of people not getting along or the copier getting jammed again and you have one heck of a stressful environment.

MIB MemeThere are endless ways to deal with stress: exercise, music, meditation, prioritization, etc. But there’s one that government employees don’t talk about as often: laughter.

“Laughter is the best medicine” isn’t just a platitude; it’s actually true. According to the Mayo Clinic, any type of laughter is a stress reliever. It soothes tension and increases oxygen intake and endorphin production. The Clinic elaborates on the long-term benefits of improved immune system, pain relief, and an increase in personal satisfaction. Even with all the positives, it is difficult for many people to use humor in the workplace. Andrew Tarvin’s TEDx Talk Humor at Work cites the biggest reason is people feel like their officemates won’t approve. As long as the humor is appropriate and doesn’t offend people, I say bring it on!

There are a few ways I like to highlight the lighter side of things at work.

  1. Personal experiences. Funny things happen to people all the time. If a story is relevant and hilarious at my own expense, I will share it in a fitting moment. (And yes, right now would be the perfect moment to share one such story but of course, I can’t think of any on the spot; I don’t know how comics do it!)
  2. Appropriate jokes. I love corny jokes and puns, so much so that I was given a joke of the day calendar. Each morning I readily share those jokes with my coworkers, to reviews ranging from chuckles to groans. Example: What do call a fake noodle? An impasta!
  3. Emoticons. People have mixed feelings about these in the workplace. For the record, I do not use them in professional emails. However, my office uses Microsoft Lync, which is a communicator that enables instant messaging, screen sharing, audio and video conferences, and more. In the most recent imaging of my computer, I was given all of the emoticons pictured to the right and all of them are animated . You might be asking, “But Jocelyn, how do you use a ninja who does a ninja move and disappears in a puff of smoke?” The better question is, how do I not use a ninja who does a ninja move and disappears in a puff of smoke?

Of course you have to know your audience and the circumstances. Sometimes humor just won’t fit. You want to be taken seriously when you need to be taken seriously, but you also want to reap the benefits of laughter.

How do you like to bring levity to the workplace? Do you have a favorite (appropriate) joke? Please feel free to share below!

Jocelyn is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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We have a whiteboard in the back of our department where we write funny things people have said, including our staff and others. Sometimes, people wander through and look at the board and add funny things to it. Nothing offensive, but it’s fun to see if you’ve “made the board”. It’s a way to laugh at ourselves.