Companies around the world are making heavy investments in technology and programs to cultivate worker connectivity in a remote world. While concepts like purpose, mentorship, and empathy are key to building company culture, it’s easy to forget a simple yet critical component of the workday: joy.
According to Harvard Business Review writer Alex Liu, there are three main components that lead to a joyful workplace. Capturing these allows companies to replicate the joyful sense of success often seen after a sports team wins a big game for example.
The first key to joy at work is harmony. To go back to our sports metaphor, on every great team, there are players that exemplify different skills. If everyone played defense, the team would never score, but if you have players who are each good at different skills, the team excels. Work is much like this. Identifying everyone’s strengths allows employees to work together in harmony. These skills click together and it feels great.
Everyone wants to feel like their work is making an impact. Joy comes from the collective feeling of effecting positive change. This could come from achieving a long-term goal, passing a milestone, or even just a particularly effective brainstorming session.
When a soccer player scores a goal, they celebrate the point, but they also turn and thank the supporting players that facilitated the turnover and the assist. In business, acknowledging successes is a major source of joy in the workplace, because when workers feel recognized, seen, and appreciated, they feel empowered and confident.
These three factors are supported by a December 2018 survey which found that those who report being more joyful at work are also more likely to feel that they understand the purpose of their role, how their role contributes to success, and that there are strong bonds within their team. Liu writes, “The pursuit of happiness sets the direction, but feeling joy provides the daily confirmation that we are doing exactly what we should be doing, for the company and for the teammates who energize our efforts.”
Unfortunately, the survey also found a significant presence of what they call “the joy gap.” 90 percent of respondents reported that they expected to feel joy at work, yet only 37 percent report actually feeling it. Liu has some strategies for managers to try in order to address this issue.
Set the agenda
Create a plan to cultivate more joy at work. This can be done by organizing brainstorming sessions, setting up programs to recognize employees for a job well-done, and explicitly laying out both short and long-term goals. Lui also notes that funding mental health benefits for all employees is a strong strategy for cultivating joy.
Set the stage
Ensure that the programs in place to increase workplace joy are cross-team and cross-department. Make sure that everyone has access to these resources and communicate with employees about what they feel would enhance their experience at work.
Set the tone
Encourage and celebrate group and individual efforts while genuinely expressing joy yourself. The actions of company leaders often set the tone for the rest of the company, so express yourself honestly and lean into joy and harmony in your workday.