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Is banter upsetting your employees?

Published: Nov 04, 2016
Is banter upsetting your employees?

Camaraderie between colleagues leads to a stronger connection to the company itself, according to a study titled ‘A Meta-Analytic Review of Social Identification and Health in Organizational Contexts.’

However, sometimes banter can get misconstrued and can borderline harassment.

One in ten employees say that ‘banter’ crosses the line once a day, and one in four say it affects their communication with others, according to a recent survey by Focal Point Training.

The research also found that one in five believes that two hours of their working day is wasted on workplace jocularity and they find it demotivating.

Of the repartee causing damage, 70% say point-scoring/one-upmanship made them feel uncomfortable, and 66% said jokes were offensive.

62% were fed up of being the butt of an ongoing joke, and 60% report having an unwanted nickname.

One in ten said that management never deals with banter, despite respondents to the survey revealing some shocking workplace comments.

One respondent said that a female colleague was told to move desk, if she didn't want to join in to 'banter' about a male colleague's sex life.

Another recalled that their peers made jokes about their weight, and a separate respondent said that homophobicbanter was thrown around, and nothing came of it even when HR got involved.

One line manager had a derogatory nickname for a female member of staff on his phone directory.

What’s the banter like in your workplace? Does it cross the line?


Banter can play an important positive role in the workplace. It can boost morale, create employee cohesion and help form a dynamic and flourishing culture. These in turn could aid recruitment and lower employee turnover. It is a fine balance to strike and one thing that can help is having polices in place that cover the issue. They can help prevent banter from getting out of hand, and give you a clear framework for dealing with an unpleasant situation.