Telling jokes in the workplace is not inherently a bad thing. It can help you bond with other employees. It can relieve stress and tension. It can help people get to know one another. If you’re a new employee, it can allow you to make a statement and show your unique personality.
All that being said, there is a risk here. Some jokes are fairly offensive. Not everyone has the same exact standards regarding what is or is not offensive. Workers need to be very careful. Someone may think that a specific joke is not offensive, but you may find it hurtful or insulting. In some cases, repeated joking can even create a hostile environment and constitute workplace harassment, especially if the worker who is offended asks for the behavior to stop.
Common issues with telling jokes at work include:
- The humor falls flat and no one appreciates it.
- The jokes make you or another worker feel alienated.
- The jokes are offensive and/or appear to target specific groups or individuals.
- It looks like the worker telling the jokes does not care about their coworkers or their job.
- Workers dread coming in for fear of being mocked and ridiculed.
- The jokes are really just a veiled way for one employee to insult others.
Again, humor does have its place. Not all jokes are a bad idea. But this can be a slippery slope and it can lead to some serious problems. If you feel like you have been harassed at work, or if it’s still ongoing, make sure you know what legal options you have.