The Humor Profiler®
While we may knowingly feel magic in the way that humor can bring people together, the relationship is under objective analysis just like many other phenomenon. In each e-newsletter edition this year, intercultures has shared steady progress on the development of the anticipated Humor Profiler tool that is being designed to assess humor preferences in intercultural contexts as an international business management tool. This month, we are pleased to share that the Humor Profiler is being used in graduate-level, scholarly research to see whether, which and how various types of humor are positively related to employee engagement. Co-developed by Piotr Pluta of PsychologyOfHumor.com and Stefan Meister of intercultures, the Humor Profiler is rooted in the organizational, social and individual psychology of humor. Interest in the creation this tool is a part of growing attention to humor by management and organizational practitioners and researchers over the past few decades, and especially in recent years.
Using humor to enhance a work atmosphere?
Out of the University of Graz in Austria, and under the guidance of Dr. Christian Hirt from the Department of Human Resource Management (HRM), new work is being contributed to the HRM field by Business Administration student, Mr. Andreas Höber. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in International Management, Höber’s interest in Cross Cultural Management was excited during a guest lecture by Andrea Mendieta, an ever-valued member of our intercultures global network. Currently, Höber is in the phase of finishing the theoretical basis of his thesis, entitled „The Impact of Humor Use on Employee Engagement”, and anticipates that he will complete work by the end of year and submit his findings to the International Journal of Humor Research. In a recent interview with Höber via email, he stated, „I never thought about explicitly using humour to enhance a work atmosphere, but after thinking about it, it makes total sense—as everyone of us uses humour every day.” The core question of his research: Which are the dominant preferences of humor use, and what impact do they have on the engagement of employees?
Humor at the work place has many positive effects
Beyond the fun of it, an interest in humor is an interest in human and financial bottom lines. First introduced to the business world by the Gallup Organization as a workforce strategy, “employee engagement has emerged as a critical driver to obtain business success” in our highly competitive marketplace, writes Höber. While researchers have yet to agree on a consistent definition for the term and have developed 50+ definitions thus far—alternately referring to “work engagement”, “job engagement”, “employee engagement” or simply “engagement“—Höber concludes that “research has reliably suggested that organizations have an overall positive benefit from the development of high levels of employee engagement.” In the draft thesis that Höber presents thus far, we learn that what he calls „high employee engagement levels“ correlate with higher organizational commitment; better role performance, less counter-productive work behavior and less frequent absenteeism; increased mental and physical health; and more personal initiative, and innovative and organizational citizenship behavior on the part of employees.
What are the main drivers to employee engagement?
Here again, according to Höber, „is a big variety of possible antecedents and predictors”. He is examining the hypothesis that humor is a significant driver of employee engagement.
POP QUIZ: What is Humor?
Choose the item(s) that best response to the question above.
A management tool of the modern work place, especially for the benefit of younger workers who expect work to be fun. (i)
Amusing communications that produce positive emotions. (ii)
Both a cognitive and affective experience – because to the difference between understanding humor and perceiving it as funny.
A universal aspect of the human experience based on cultural and social context.
An intervention to reduce conflict, and cope with stress and adversity.
One approach to weaken status differences, express disagreement and aggression.
A way to communicate implicit and/or critical messages; influence people; secure power in hierarchical relationships; and enhance social cohesion within an in-group.
Answer: All of the above. Further, according to Höber’s research, “People who experience humour showed improvements in a variety of cognitive abilities and social behaviors” including greater cognitive flexibility leading to more creative problem solving; more efficient organization and integration of memory; more effective thinking, planning and judgment; higher levels of social responsibility; improved mental and physical health; and pro-social behavior. It’s only a matter of time until the benefits of humor that we feel are proven empirically by HRM research and continued management practice.
BONUS TIP: Feedback through humor?
Did you know that humor can be a good way to give both appreciated and constructive feedback? Mr. Andreas Höber, who is using the Humor Profiler to conduct graduate-level, scholarly research to see weather, which and how various types of humor are positively related to employee engagement, writes that some people „actively use humor to convey critique, so that it is not too painful to receive“, and in order to „maintain a good relationship“ with the feedback receiver(s). Humor can also be used to „turn attention to other peoples‘ errors in a mild and non-threatening way“ (iii). Consider using humor to express praise „if a more straightforward way of conveying it might make the (feedback) receiver uncomfortable (iii).
Offered through intercultures, the Feedback Profiler helps tandems, teams and whole organizations learn more about the power of feedback as an organizational development tool.
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i. Source: Levin.
ii. Source: Romero & Cruthirds (2006).
iii. Source: Pluta (2015).
The above article was included in our July 2016 intercultures e-newsletter.
Picture Credit Title Picture: Malii Brown.