Fighting the “she-cession” by bringing joy back to work

It’s no secret that women have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, something we see in the inordinate number of women who have left the workforce in the past year.

PwC’s recent Women in Work Index pointed to this “she-cession” and the fact that women spent 7.7 more hours per week than men on unpaid childcare last year. PwC noted that women have lost their jobs at a faster rate than men, and it may take a decade before society gets back on track toward gender equality in the workplace.

The fact is that juggling kids doing remote learning with an at-home work experience that is less engaging is sucking the joy out of work for many women. And as they return to the office in a post-pandemic world, it’s likely anxiety and stress will return with them.

So as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we need to consider how we can bring that joy back.

Injecting humor and levity in our daily work interactions – either virtual or in-person – can literally change how our brains work, generating more alpha brainwaves that help us develop creative solutions, reduce stress and solve problems. Most importantly, it also builds resiliency, which can help all of us better navigate the challenges we are facing and bounce back more quickly. For women trying to rejoin the workforce or make a successful return to the office, this can make all the difference.

When it comes to humor at work, I found inspiration poring over the fantastic new book, Humor, Seriously, by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas. It’s quickly become one of my favorite business books of all time because of how explores the importance of bringing levity to every organization. On top of that, it’s fantastic to see two women authors tackle this subject matter so well.

One of my favorite anecdotes from the book involves Aaron Easterly, CEO of pet platform Rover. He played “Two Truths and a Lie” with his staff on the company’s eighth-anniversary party by giving them a quiz containing numerous embarrassing – and hilarious – mistakes Easterly has made. One occurred during a pitch, when he referred to a room full of visiting executives as being from one of their main competitors (probably my worst nightmare). Easterly took the opportunity to not only bring levity to a situation that had arisen naturally (the party), but also reveal his vulnerability and human side by poking fun at himself.

At Peppercomm, we’ve been helping companies bring levity to work for more than a decade. We realize we are living in a time when employees are dealing more stressors than ever. It’s so important to remember that humor, delivered in the right ways, can empower your people, improve productivity, drive sales and strengthen resilience among your teams.