Office jokes have had their day, survey reveals

Office pranksters like Colin from the BBC’s The Fast Show
are becoming a thing of the past in the British workplace, according to
research.

The survey by Pertemps, conducted among 700
office workers, reveals that more than half are worried about telling jokes for
fear of being accused of sexual or racial discrimination.

Almost two-thirds admit to censoring jokes they
tell at work in order to avoid causing offence.

A similar proportion of respondents claim
political correctness has put paid to the days of the office prankster and
bemoaned the fact that the workplace is becoming too serious.

A quarter of women surveyed have played a
practical joke on their boss, compared to 19 per cent of men.

However, all of those questioned admit to being
selective about who they tell a joke to at work.

The majority of respondents believe humour in
the office has a positive effect on performance at work. Eighty per cent feel
more motivated and two-thirds said humour improves morale.

Tim Watts, Pertemps chairman, said:
"People are not sure where to draw the line when telling jokes these days
and as a result many people are simply not telling them anymore.

“This is a shame because people often feel more
motivated if they work in a relaxed environment, and happy staff equal a happy
company, which in turn is good for any business. The difficulty for many people
these days is striking the right balance.

"We advise staff to stop and think about
the joke they are going to tell or the prank they are going to set up and
decide if it might offend before going ahead.

“Employers need to ensure staff are happy and
working relationships don’t suffer as a consequence of a colleague’s
humour."

By Ben Willmott

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