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The Stay on Course Playbook, Accelerating the Future of Leadership Series (Part 5): Uniting Teams and Unlocking Potential

Julie Riga 
CEO of Stay on Course
Executive Business & Leadership Coach, and MBA
New Jersey

Infusing lightheartedness and Enjoyment into the work environment

Welcome back to “The Stay on Course Playbook” series. Today, we’re shifting gears to delve into a crucial aspect of our professional lives – the essence of joy in the workplace.

“Embracing Fun on the Course: Uniting Teams and Unlocking Potential,” is not just talking about work; we’re talking about infusing joy, laughter, and genuine enjoyment into what we do.  It’s about creating a workplace where creativity, innovation, and high performance thrive.

Think of it as crafting an environment where the pursuit of success is intertwined with the celebration of each step, where purpose aligns with positivity. We’ve covered purpose, collaborative team strategies, and effective operations in our playbook – now, let’s embrace the Enterprise Mindset with a splash of joy.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius

Funny Business

Driving Results with Workplace Humor

In a world where data speaks volumes, the resounding evidence supporting the positive impact of humor on organizational performance is too compelling to ignore. It’s not just about laughter being good medicine; it’s about harnessing the transformative power of humor to elevate your organization. While we may be familiar with the idea that laughter does good, the profound influence of humor on performance is often underestimated. Let’s delve into the enlightening ways in which infusing humor can dynamically light up the energy within your organization, creating a ripple effect that goes far beyond mere amusement.

Stress Reduction:

Humor triggers the release of endorphins, reducing stress levels. Let’s commit to injecting humor into our daily routines, reducing stress and boosting team spirits. Take up the challenge to bring laughter into meetings, fostering a positive atmosphere that energizes everyone.

Enhanced Creativity:

A positive, humorous environment fosters creativity and innovative thinking. Embracing a positive, humorous environment sparks creativity and innovative thinking. Encourage team members to share funny stories or experiences that inspire fresh perspectives and creative solutions.

Improved Problem-Solving:

Humor promotes a playful mindset, aiding in more effective problem-solving. Approach challenges with a playful mindset fueled by humor. Let’s transform problems into opportunities by encouraging laughter-filled brainstorming sessions and embracing unconventional ideas.

Team Building:

Shared laughter builds a sense of camaraderie and strengthens team bonds. Use humor as a powerful tool to strengthen team bonds and foster a sense of camaraderie. Plan team-building activities infused with laughter to create memorable experiences and build stronger connections.

Increased Job Satisfaction:

Employees in a humor-friendly workplace report higher job satisfaction. Cultivate a workplace culture where humor is valued, leading to higher job satisfaction and a more enjoyable work environment. Celebrate achievements with laughter-filled rituals and events to uplift team morale.

Positive Team Culture:

Humor contributes to a positive organizational culture, fostering a more enjoyable work environment. Embed humor into the fabric of your organizational culture through shared norms, rituals, and leadership support. Leaders, lead by example by embracing positivity and storytelling that resonates emotionally with team members.

Benefits of Humor on Creativity

Laughter is a catalyst for releasing creativity, and the evidence supporting this is robust. Studies, such as the research conducted by Sliter, Kale, and Yuan (2014), reveal that humor acts as a stress buffer, creating an environment where minds are freed from the constraints of tension. As we laugh together, we foster a sense of ease that not only liberates our thinking but encourages the exploration of unconventional ideas. Reflect on teams you’ve been a part of where creativity flowed effortlessly—chances are, laughter played a pivotal role in cultivating an atmosphere where innovation thrived.

Innovation: Cultivating a Culture of Playful Exploration

Innovation transcends mere groundbreaking ideas; it thrives in an environment where creativity takes root and flourishes. The insightful study by Vaid and Hull (2018) highlights the profound impact of humor on fostering this innovation-friendly atmosphere. Imagine a workplace where each team meeting transforms into a dynamic exchange of ideas, fueled by the positive energy of shared laughter—a true embodiment of an innovative culture.

Embracing a playful mindset, inspired by humor, turns challenges into opportunities for creative exploration. It’s about shifting perspectives, seeing problems through a different lens, and uncovering solutions that transcend the ordinary. In this dynamic environment, laughter isn’t a distraction; it’s a driving force behind groundbreaking solutions.

To nurture this spirit, consider creating an innovation playground—a space where curiosity thrives, and playing with ideas is encouraged. Establishing a norm around this fosters a culture where new concepts can incubate and flourish. We recognize the importance of embracing an entrepreneurial spirit within our organization, understanding that allowing room for failure is crucial for continuous improvement and innovation.

Cultivating a Positive Organizational Culture

Actionable Steps

The journey towards fostering a positive organizational culture is not a mere aspiration; it’s a deliberate path marked by tangible, actionable steps. Organizations that actively invest in cultivating a positive culture often witness the flourishing of engaged and motivated teams.

Positivity: The Anchor of Leadership Support and Alignment

In my journey, the unwavering backing of leadership and a shared commitment to organizational values stand out as foundational anchors steering the ship toward a positive culture. Leaders, in essence, set the sail, shaping the overall vibe within the organization. They’re not just figureheads; they’re pioneers, leading by example.

To truly infuse positivity, leaders need to take the lead, embodying positive energy and sharing the authentic story of the company’s purpose. It’s not just about conveying messages; it’s about connecting on a personal level, allowing individuals to see how their own purpose aligns with the broader organizational goals.

Effective leaders communicate the vision, purpose, and cultural principles in a way that resonates emotionally. This isn’t about corporate jargon; it’s about storytelling that connects on a human level. Such leaders gain the trust of their teams, inspiring them to take ownership of their responsibilities and contribute to the collective success of the organization.

Embedding Norms and Rituals: The Heartbeat of Culture

In our exploration of organizational culture, integrating norms and rituals emerges as the lifeblood that nourishes positivity. The establishment of team norms lays the groundwork for a community where mutual support flourishes, turning the workplace into a hub of collaborative energy. Regular celebrations and acknowledgment of achievements through rituals infuse vitality into the cultural fabric, transforming each day into an occasion for celebrating success and valuing collective efforts.

Within the intricate weaving of fostering a positive organizational culture, the intentional integration of norms, rituals, and leadership support forms a dynamic tapestry. This tapestry is not just a visual display but a living pattern that nurtures engagement, motivation, and a shared sense of purpose among the team.

Cultivating Connection to Increase Workplace Satisfaction

I remember when casual Fridays evolved into legendary themed dress-up days, sparking creativity, and fostering camaraderie. Beyond the workplace, team dinners, happy hours, and family picnics further strengthened the bonds among us. In my over 25 years of corporate experience, I’ve seen firsthand how these shared moments, both within and outside the office, contributed to a sense of community. Remote working has changed our ability to connect as we did in the past and each company needs to find its new strategy on how to keep employees connected in a hybrid environment.

Drawing from these personal experiences, I vividly remember how team productivity soared when we embraced humor to celebrate small victories. However, it wasn’t just the workplace enjoyment during themed days that made a difference; it was the additional moments, like team dinners and picnics, that brought us together as a community. Reflecting on the past, the sense of community and the time spent together were significant contributors to a positive work environment. Perhaps, amidst the challenges of the great resignation and increased mental health concerns, re-embracing these community-building activities could be the key to making workplaces more enjoyable and productive.

Your Turn

Would you be willing to participate in a Laughter-Inspired Challenge?  The challenge is to integrate humor into the corporate routine, aiming for at least one well-placed laugh in every meeting. Elevate the ambiance of your discussions by infusing them with a touch of humor, transforming each PowerPoint presentation into a blend of insightful content and witty anecdotes. Creating a workplace where laughter is not just a by-product, but a deliberate element enhances team morale, fostering an environment that encourages creativity and boosts engagement. Ready to bring a corporate touch to comedy? Accept the challenge and witness the positive impact it has on your team’s dynamics and innovative spirit!

Embracing fun on the course and infusing lightheartedness into the workplace revolves around the six key principles previously listed and related actions.

By embracing these principles authentically and weaving them into our daily work interactions, we can create a workplace where joy, creativity, and collaboration thrive. Let’s take actionable steps to infuse fun into our work lives and release the full potential of our teams. 


  • Szabo, A. (2003). The acute effects of humor and exercise on mood and anxiety. Journal of Leisure Research, 35(2), 152–162.
  • Sliter, M., Kale, A., & Yuan, Z. (2014). Is humor the best medicine? The buffering effect of coping humor on traumatic stressors in firefighters. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35(2), 257–272.
  • Vaid, J., & Hull, R. (2018). The effects of humor on creativity: A literature review. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 12(3), 309–320.
  • Romero, E. J., Cruthirds, K. W., & Echemendia, R. J. (2015). The use of humor in the workplace. Academy of Management Perspectives, 29(1), 45–58.
  • Nijstad, B. A., De Dreu, C. K., Rietzschel, E. F., & Baas, M. (2010). The dual pathway to creativity model: Creative ideation as a function of flexibility and persistence. European Review of Social Psychology, 21(1), 34–77.
  • Cooper, C. D., & Wan, W. H. (2013). Antecedents and outcomes of organizational and personal engagement with corporate social responsibility: A stakeholder perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(3), 417–435.


Leadership Coach and Trainer at 

Julie Riga is a certified ICF coach, trainer, speaker, and author with over 20 years of experience in the Pharma Industry. With a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master's Degree in Business, Julie's expertise lies in leadership, team dynamics, and organizational development. She excels in working with matrix organizations in highly regulated industries, forging authentic connections and orchestrating diverse resources into high-functioning teams that consistently deliver breakthrough results on time and under budget.


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