How To Deal With Inappropriate Humor At The Workplace?

by Chandler Barr Feb 2,2016

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Everyone wants a workplace where they feel respected and safe. A good sense of humor is admired by everyone. At workplace, humor can be a way to deal with work-stress and tensions. But what if this humor turns out to be offensive to others?

Inappropriate jokes at workplace is frowned upon these days due to the negative effect that it has on an organization as its employees. How do you as a Human Resource manager handle inappropriate humor at your workplace?

Here are few things you can do to prevent or deal with inappropriate humor at your workplace.

1. Establish A Complaint Procedure for Inappropriate Humor

Establish a strong and effective complaint procedure in your organization. Most organizations lack proper complaint boards because of which most employees are not able to report any case of inappropriate jokes or harassment.  Encourage your employees to come to you with any problems or harassment they face at workplace.

2. Communicate The Procedure And Policy

Once you establish a procedure, it is important that you talk to your employees about the policies and procedure to report a case of inappropriate behavior at workplace . Define what counts as unlawful harassment and what doesn’t. For example, repeatedly utilizing gender-biased humor is offensive as is commenting on an employees appearance. People might assume that if they do not mean harm, it cannot count as harassment. However, that is not true. One should also consider the feelings of the  person who the humor and comments are being aimed at. If they find it offensive, they have every right to make a complaint with HR.

Also Read : Do You Listen To Your Employees?

3. Brush-off The Inappropriate Joke

You don’t have to take serious action for every joke that you encounter at workplace. Sometimes you can simply brush-off the joke by being self-deprecating. You can also ask your colleagues to clarify the joke if you are confused about what they actually mean. When people have to explain jokes a second time, they become less funny. Using self-deprecating humor can help you through the awkward jokes.

Example: Lily: Hey Brian, weren’t you on a diet? Brian: Oh yeah! I’m on that new “seafood” diet. If I see food, I eat it.

4. Don’t Be Judgmental

Be more receptive to the problems of your employees. Keep an open mind. When somebody comes to you with a concern, do not pass judgement on it. Instead, take it seriously and help them deal with it professionally. Do not brush it off because the concern is too silly to be tackled.

5. Advice In Person

Even though you do not take a serious action on a person’s inappropriate humor, it is important that the person knows that they were using inappropriate jokes. Talk to the employee in person and advice them to notice how people react to their jokes.

There’s a fine line between making a joke and being offensive. Many people may not always realize that. But hopefully, these tips should give you some idea about how to deal with that.

How would you deal with inappropriate humour at the workplace? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

If you are interested in knowing about how Engagedly can change your organization, request a demo from the Engagedly team!

Chandler Barr
VP of Sales

Chandler Barr is the VP of Sales at Engagedly and is focused on driving a culture of progress over perfection in a no-fault environment where employees are secure and encouraged to think creatively to solve problems. Chandler is a seasoned leader that has scaled sales teams for SaaS startups and multibillion-dollar publicly traded tech companies, as well as, led Marines to accomplish the mission during hardships overseas.

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