Workopolis: News Releases

Half of Canadian Workers Rely on Humour to Alleviate Workplace Stress
It's April Fool's Day: helps Canada manage humour on the job

March 31, 2008 – Tomorrow is April Fool's Day, the nationally recognized day for humour, jokes and pranks. And it looks like working Canadians will welcome the day - according to a recent poll by, Canada's leading provider of internet recruitment and job search solutions, 46 per cent of Canadians report that pranks are accepted or encouraged in their workplace, and another half (45%) say that humour at work is used to alleviate pressure and control stress. But Canadians should also remember that humour gone wrong in the workplace can hurt you in the long run.

"Canadians want and need humour on the job, and what better day to celebrate this than April Fool's Day," said Patrick Sullivan, President of Workopolis. "Although we tend to bend the rules on April 1st, there is still an underlying humour etiquette that workers should be aware of. Pranks taken too far on the job can be detrimental to your career."

To help Canadians in their quest for appropriate office fun, is releasing its Humour Classification Report – a guide to humour on the job. With varying personalities and thresholds for humour in today's workplaces, Workopolis aims to ensure that humour is still work-appropriate this April Fool's Day.

Workopolis' Humour Classification Report:
This year Workopolis provides information about who is doing the joking and how to do humour right this April Fool's Day.

  • Sarcastic/witty jokester: This workplace comedian may appear to have it easy with a punch line for every situation, but humour isn't always the right solution. While it tends comes across as witty and clever, if done too often or gone wrong, his humour can be perceived as sarcastic. He isn't shy to add colour commentary in any and all situations – in front of the boss, colleagues or whomever. And because of the witty approach to his humour, he is confident in his delivery and always gets a laugh. 
    • Workopolis' advice: Think before you joke. Evaluate the situation, your audience and your injection of humour. Will it get a laugh from most of the room? Will it take the meeting off strategy? Are you interrupting and offending anyone? Keeping quiet could be the best approach in serious situations, meetings or environments.
  • Obnoxious or inappropriate joker: She's easy to identify since there is often an uncomfortable silence that follows her humour. And she doesn't hesitate to incorporate her humour into any situation. She has a hard time differentiating between workplace humour and social humour and often crosses the line with inappropriate language and subject matters. Don't follow her lead this April Fool's Day!
    • Workopolis' advice: You are still at work, and what may get a laugh with your friends, isn't always appropriate with your colleagues. Avoid topics that really don't lend themselves to humour – anything you'd be afraid to say to your mother, doesn't belong in the workplace either. Evaluate each situation and assess the room before you open with a punch line. Your colleagues will appreciate your humour more if you use it cautiously.
  • Trying too hard to be funny jokester: He's often relying on humour to get attention and lighten uncomfortable situations. He rarely hears the laugh track after his punch line, but that only pushes him to try harder. His comments and attempts at humour distract the audience more than amuse. According to the Workopolis April Fool's Day poll, only two per cent of Canadians believe humour should be used at work to get attention or stand out from others. That means this approach to workplace humour is in the minority and more people are uncomfortable with your humour than approve.
    • Workopolis' advice: You don't have to have the last word, and you certainly don't need to make a comment every time you're in the room. The more you say, the less funny you are, and the fewer laughs you'll get. Try other techniques to earn respect from your colleagues and save your humour for the right or best situation. In this case, less is more.
  • The Prankster: This joker often relies on physical practical jokes to get a reaction from his colleagues. He is clever in his approach and aims to trick people - whether turning to email sabotage, rearranging office furniture, whoopee cushions or crank phone calls. Be weary of this workplace comic.
    • Workopolis' advice: April Fool's Day was made for you! Be sure you know your audience well and understand the limitations of workplace pranks. Before your prank, do your research and find out if it's acceptable to pull a practical joke on the boss. Often your humour involves tricking people one at a time, so make sure your victims can handle your sense of humour.
  • Putting it all on the line funny: This prankster goes a step beyond "Trying too hard to be funny". She stops at nothing to get a laugh – even at the expense of her career or colleagues. She often spends more time crafting the right prank instead of focusing on her work. She's willing to embarrass herself in front of room full of colleagues to get attention. April Fool's Day is a dangerous day for this workplace clown as she feels it's a no holds barred-type of day.
    • Workopolis' advice: Re-evaluate your career – maybe you were more suited for the life of a comedian? While work environments are finding more room for humour, not all corporate cultures tolerate yours. Understand what's acceptable and appropriate in your work environment before you go too far. Tone it down and save up more of your humour and pranks for outside of work social situations.

More from the poll:
According to the Workopolis April Fool's Day poll:

  • Quebec workplaces tolerate and encourage humour the most as three-quarters (76%) report acceptance of pranks on the job, versus 46 per cent of Canadians.
  • Interestingly, British Columbians report the least amount of job-related practical jokes – with only one-third (30 per cent) citing it is acceptable to pull a prank on a colleague.
  • One-third (37%) of working Canadians believe that humour is used to bond with colleagues;
    • Six per cent cite humour as a way to bridge hierarchy or authority within the workplace;
    • Only two per cent feel humour is used to get attention or stand out from the crowd.

The rules of humour at work:
While each work environment has its own specific approach to humour and pranks on the job, offers the following advice to those planning a prank this April Fool's Day or any day of the year:

  • Know your corporate culture: While there may not be a formal rule in place, do your research first and find out how tolerant your workplace is of practical jokes. If it's not widely accepted, reconsider your plans for April 1st. If it is allowed, know your boundaries.
  • Know who's off limits: Though half of working Canadians report their workplaces allow pranks, does that include the boss? Your manager? Your subordinates? Recognize who has a sense of humour, who will appreciate your humour and who you should avoid.
  • Know how far you can go: It may be just a joke, but more importantly, you're still at work and should use cautious judgement before you go too far. Ask yourself if the prank was played on you, would you find it funny? Can this prank only be tested on certain colleagues? If the answer to either of these questions is no, reconsider your practical joke.
  • Know when the timing is right: Even if you work for an environment that encourages humour and pranks, there is a time and a place for everything. Consider: are your colleagues on deadline? Are there clients or important guests in your office? Is it too tense and a practical joke will push them over the edge? What kind of a message will you send if it's your first day of work and you're the originator of a workplace prank?
  • Know what to do if you've gone too far: You may take every necessary precaution to ensure humour is used appropriately at work, but it can still backfire. First, find out where you went wrong – was the timing off? Did you target the wrong person? If you offended someone specifically, formally apologize.

About Workopolis:
Workopolis is Canada's largest and most popular Internet recruiting and job search solutions provider with over 3.5 million unique visitors monthly in Canada and twice as many job postings as the nearest competitor. 

Workopolis provides a fully bilingual suite of award-winning applications, products and services to both large and small Canadian companies:

  •™, Canada's biggest job site—with the most jobs, visitors and employers of any Canadian job site plus, intuitive screening tools and powerful resume database search tools help connect employers with the "best fit" candidates faster and more efficiently.
  •, Canada's biggest job site for students and recent graduates.
  • CorporateWorks™, Canada's most implemented recruitment management solution using the tools that power to power corporate career sites.
  • Workopolis customers also have access to approximately 100 professional and trade associations

Workopolis is a partnership of Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. and Gesca Ltd., the newspaper publishing subsidiary of Power Corporation of Canada. Workopolis has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Guelph, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

Workopolis is the exclusive Official Supplier of Online Recruitment Services for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

For more information:
Jill Anzarut
Environics Communications


Amy Davidson
Environics Communications