07814 008478 info@coppicehr.com

Coppice HR

HR News

Are You Having A Laugh?

David Bent delivering one of his numerous quips in the fictional TV series ‘The Office’ is one that we would not want to duplicate in our workplace.

However, does humour give stronger engagement with co-workers or is it a recipe for bullying claims? A sprinkle of laughter to spice up our day can’t be wrong can it?

Remember that different employees have different tastes and what one person finds funny another may not. The use of humour that discriminates directly or indirectly on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality and disability is not acceptable. It is important to remember that humour is not only communicated audibly but can also be shared on emails or published on social media. Remember anything in writing can be shared publicly too!

I certainly believe that the use of humour at work can have a positive effect and is part of our workplace culture. Perhaps humour works best when trust and playfulness has been established between workers, whilst a wrongly place sarcastic comment could be seen as flippant or even cruel. A boss using their power to belittle a more junior team member by sarcastic comments not only dissolves any team ethos but may also impede performance. Inappropriate humour can be seen as bullying.

On an international level it must be remembered that national sense of humour is often different and can often be lost in translation. The British sense of humour is usually one of self-depreciation as we laugh at ourselves, sarcasm and a constant deadpan delivery. How can this translate? Will it be understood in the way it was meant?

HR has a part to play and should not take it lightly. Not only may it have to moderate a grievance after the event, but is also vital in encouraging a safe environment where employees respect each other and encourage banter which is within social norms. In short, any form of banter that is not suitable to be heard or read by the Head of HR should be avoided!

To ensure that businesses have done all they can to prevent issues and cover themselves is vital. It is important that Internet, Harassment & Bullying policies are in place and have wording that takes into account these aspects. Coppice HR will review your current policies or write bespoke ones for your business to ensure that is the case. Contact us on 07814 008478 or coppicehr.com.

However, “Did you hear the one about…”

Inspired by: How to stop office humour being offensive and Is humour the way to keep an office happy?


Do you want access to FREE HR advice? Can your business afford to miss out?

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for HR tips, tricks and advice.


  • - Free weekly high-value HR tips & advice


  • - Updates on significant legislation changes


  • - Suitable for all SMEs


  • - Quick access to professional HR support

You have Successfully Subscribed!