Workplace Humor: The Human Resources Nightmare


Workplace Humor: The Human Resources Nightmare

Erica Caramol | Jul, 24 2014

It used to be that jokes needed word-of-mouth to circulate among family, friends, and co-workers. Now, all you need is an active social media account, and you’re up to your elbows in viral GIFs, memes and jokes. While the vast majority of these are harmless, there is always going to be a few that have the potential to offend. In the workplace, offensive jokes are one of the top human resources nightmares that can cause stress and consternation for even the most adept professionals.

In the workplace, offensive jokes are one of the top human resources nightmares that can cause stress and consternation for even the most adept professionals.

When In Doubt, Forgo the Yuks

There are many taboo subjects in the contemporary workplace with race, sex, religion, politics and ethnicity leading the way. If you’re not yet sure of the office culture, it’s best to forgo the jokes until you acclimatize yourself with the chatter. Keep an eye out for the joke-tellers and see who generally has that devil-may-care attitude. A few jokes and some teasing can be a form of camaraderie, but when the joking turns to tasteless humor, it can easily gather steam and turn into an unanticipated avalanche.

Human Resources professionals have to walk a fine line with workplace humor, because one person’s joke can just as easily be another’s offense. You can never be completely sure who will laugh, and who will look to lodge a complaint against the well-meaning joker. It used to take a lot to fire someone, but today, many companies will look at dismissing an employee for off-color humor as an easy way to deal with the problem, in addition to teaching other employees to be careful what they joke about. In some ways, that makes it easy for H.R. to handle; in other ways, a company can gain a reputation for not treating its employees fairly.

Not Sure What to Do? Help is Close at Hand

Human Resources can be the most difficult department to work in, regardless of the size of the company. Fortunately, there are professionals out there who are willing to share their experiences and offer guidance to those seeking it.

Coggno has a wealth of online training courses to help human resources professionals, whether they need to deal with jokes gone bad, or other difficult to handle situations. All you need to do is browse the selection, and choose the course, or courses you need to get you through the rough spots. Online training is more affordable, convenient, and effective than ever.

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