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The Case for More Joy at Work


What if our markers of success at work were how much Joy we were feeling?

Joy is our ability to have fun. As Arianna Huffington writes in her October 2022 ‘On My Mind’ newsletter; there is a Human Revolution underway, which recognises that the time has come to reject a “hustle & burnout” culture.

This Human Revolution demands that we recognise one fundamental truth:

Workplaces have been transactional for far too long. It’s time to understand that emotions drive people, and people drive performance.

Burnout is a consequence of unmet emotional needs – not overwork!

In Arianna’s words: “We have to adopt a new way of living that affirms our full humanity and what we need to thrive. We can be engaged by our work without being defined by it. We can find joy in our work without having our lives revolve around it. We need a science-based mindset shift which acknowledges that we’re more productive and more creative when we’re recharged.”

The last couple of years have been difficult for many, and around the world people are reassessing where they want to live, how they want to work and the impact they want to have.

It looks and feels like a global and personal re-alignment of personal values, and values-based decisions and choices.

The global emotional intelligence network, Six Seconds, recently published a 2022 Team Vitality Report. They were curious about how teams globally had fared through Covid-19, and the good news is that they did surprisingly well.

When they looked deeper into the data behind why these teams did well, they found that Trust, Acknowledgment & Joy are really important predictors of achieving Results (a team’s ability to focus on key priorities and get things done together) and Satisfaction (how connected people feel with the team and its mission).

Joy in this context doesn’t mean table tennis through the day; it means recognising that Joy is an emotion, and training leaders and managers at all levels to become more emotionally intelligent is vital.

When you think about it, there are so many opportunities each and every day to spark Joy in a workplace:

  • Thank someone genuinely for their efforts
  • Smile. Emotions are contagious
  • Take a few minutes at the start of a meeting to connect and ask someone about something you know has been important to them: “how was your daughter’s graduation?”
  • Call a remote team member on your way home from work
  • Introduce gratitude practices into your meetings ie. End a meeting by inviting each person to say one thing they’re thankful for (in a virtual meeting this is easily done through the ‘chat’ function
  • Find moments for random acts of kindness
  • Practice kindness
  • Surprise people ~ ending a meeting 15 minutes early and invite attendees to go for a walk outside before their next commitment
  • Write a letter of appreciation
  • Know what your people are passionate about, and show an interest
  • Listen empathically – not to solve the other person’s problem, but to connect with what they’re really trying to say.

We have a way of measuring Joy in the Six Seconds Team Vital Signs (TVS).

With such a high correlation between personal Joy, and the Results & Satisfaction of teams, we’re also likely to see enhanced team performance, and a greater chance that strategy will be delivered on for sustainable long-term success.

Imagine a world where a key metric for organisational culture was Joy in our teams and organisations? It’s beyond time for our organisations to realize that a transactional culture won’t get them where they want to go.

And as Dr Brené Brown reminds us, there is power in Gratitude, Vulnerability and Joy.


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