OMG! Funny Really DOES Make Money!

A CFO’s Take on Humor in the Workplace

One thousand, four hundred CFOs were asked, “How important is an employee’s sense of humor in him or her fitting into your company’s corporate culture?” Seventy-nine percent of them said that an employee’s sense of humor was important for fitting into a company’s corporate culture. Seventy-nine percent! 

Wow! Two things about this impressed me. First, seventy-nine percent is a huge majority. And second, why the heck did they ask CFOs?!  One would of thought they’d ask the CEO or director of HR, but I think it’s fantastic that the researchers asked the single most numbers-oriented person in any firm such a “soft” question.

The research also revealed that twenty-two percent said it was “very important,” while twenty percent said it was “not at all important.”

“A little levity goes a long way toward building rapport among colleagues, and diffusing workplace tension,” said Kimberly Stiener-Murphy, a Regional Vice President for Robert Half (which owns Accountemps, which funded the research.) “Levity by those at the top can also make the office more fun, which can boost morale and productivity, and raise retention rates.”

Hmmm…improved morale, increased productivity, and better retention…sounds to me like elements that contribute to a positive ROI.

  • Improved morale: Studies have shown that positive employee morale translates into higher stock prices.
  • Increased productivity: Better productivity always improves profits.
  • Better retention: Turnover typically cost 1.5 to 2 times an employee’s annual salary.

I did a little research on Robert Half and was delighted to discover that their corporate tagline is “It’s time we all work happy.” Now there’s a company that treats employees and clients like actual human beings, all of whom have a sense of humor worth respecting and supporting.

Kudos to Robert Half and those one-thousand, four-hundred CFOs who participated in this research! It’s gratifying that the observations that humor enhances well-being and success are being supported by more research as time goes on. Funny really does make money!


An excerpt from Funny Makes Money: Strategic Humor for Influence (ForbesBooks, winter 2019) by neurohumorist Karyn Buxman  •  858-603-3133  •  TEDx talk “How Humor Saved the World”.

Karyn Buxman is a TEDx speaker, ForbesBooks author, and neurohumorist (she lives at the intersection of humor and the brain.) A pioneer in the emerging science of applied humor, Karyn helps high performers expand their influence, strengthen their relationships, and boost their resilience. From the Mayo Clinic to the Million Dollar Round Table, organizations around the world hire Karyn to educate, inspire, and entertain their audiences again and again. She’s one of 194 people (and only 43 women) in the world to be inducted into the National Speakers Association's Speaker Hall of Fame. Her latest book, Funny Means Money will be published by Forbes in 2019. Karyn is serious about humor!


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