Work can be a serious, and let’s face it, dreary, place to spend eight hours a day. A little humor can help lighten the mood. However, jokes can turn bad very quickly. A poorly thought out prank Can lead to hurt feelings, reduced morale, and, in extreme cases, legal complications. 

According to a Harvard Business Review article on the subject, humor can help create an in-group and help take some of the anxiety out of stressful situations. These aspects can boost morale, while, at the same time, improving productivity and driving innovation. But its important to know when and where humor can help your team-building efforts, and when it can become a barrier.  

It can be hard to know what pranks belong in the workplace. Follow these tips to know what’s appropriate for April Fool’s Day: 

Control the Narrative  

Don’t let your employees create policy for you. If you don’t provide clear guidelines, your workers might take matters into their own hands. You don’t want to react to pranks after they happen, trying to piece together an ad hoc policy retrospectively 

Instead, think about your standards ahead of time. Decide what you consider appropriate and craft a clear set of guidelines. Then, communicate this information to your employees. A transparent policy will avoid confusion and sidestep unnecessary conflict. 

Along the same lines, consider creating a company prank for marketing purposes. It will allow you to get into the spirit of April Fool’s Day and generate buzz on social media. Meanwhile, your employees’ creative industry can be channeled into something productive, rather than on distracting pranks pulled on one another. 

Consider Your Brand and Culture  

Your personal feelings on pranks shouldn’t represent the guiding principle when you set your policy. You have to look at your firms overall culture. Tailor your stance based on your employer brand, and on the expectations of your employees. 

After all, some workplaces are looser than others. You need to keep this dynamic in mind as you determine your policy. If your company is relatively casual, you might be open to a certain amount of distraction. However, if you work in a staid, buttondown firm, it might be best to avoid pranks altogether. 

Have a Clear Harassment Policy 

The danger with pranks comes when they go too far.  They often straddle the line between good-natured teasing and bullying. In the furthest extreme, they can teeter close to harassment. An otherwise funny joke can easily tip into a painful confrontation, if it is executed poorly. 

It’s important to avoid these worst-case scenarios. A prank-gone-wrong can easily tear into morale, or even create a legal situation. Make it extremely clear what constitutes unacceptable behavior. Again, transparency represents your best chance to avoid confusion and unnecessary problems. 

Listen to Your Workers 

Make communication on this topic a two-way street. Crafting a policy about pranks should be a group effort. Talk to your employees about the matter and incorporate their feelings into your decision-making process. They can give you excellent insight about morale and the state of mind of the people in the office. 

Learn How SmartTalent Can Help Improve Your Organization

Building a strong team spirit leads to higher productivity and improved innovation. Humor and social activities can play a big part in this process. However, you still need the right people. Partnering with a strong recruiter, like SmartTalent, lets you find the kind of workers that will enrich your culture and fuel your future growth. 

Contact SmartTalent today to learn more.