The Role Of Joy In The Workplace

Bob Bennett

We spend most of our lives at work. In fact, the only place we spend more time is in bed

So we should hope (if not expect) that the workplace is an environment of joy. For most Americans, though, it’s not. Even before the pandemic triggered a new wave of workplace burnout, a 2018 Kearney survey found that only 37% of respondents reported experiencing substantial joy at work. 

If I claimed I knew how to fix this for everyone, I’d be lying. Innumerable factors affect the amount of joy someone derives from their work — finances, location, health, family life, to name just a few. But one thing I do know is that time is finite, and we all deserve to find joy in what time we have — including the time we spend at work. 

Finding joy at work is easier said than done. Creating an environment that fosters joy requires candid conversations with your team about important values and how to implement them into the workplace.

Much of it is subjective, but there here are a few tangible ways I’ve found executive leadership can create an environment that sparks joy in employees.

1. Putting A Focus On Relationship Building

In my experience, the relationships people form at work are the most significant factor in determining whether they are able to find joy on the job. These essential connections are not only with co-workers and managers but also with customers, partners and affiliates.

At all new hire orientations, my very first order of business as CEO is building rapport. I ask new employees about their families, their favorite movie, their hobbies — anything that is unrelated to work. This puts people at ease and sets a precedent. 

We train our team to build relationships based not on business but on trust. This means demonstrating interest in one another as whole people rather than just employees and learning about one another on a personal level to promote true connection. 

Relationships built on a foundation of trust allow smoother work and better communication. They also ensure everyone feels cared for, seen and valued, paving the way for a joyful workplace

2. Ensure Employees Know Their Role In The Company’s Journey

Let me be clear: Professional fulfillment and joy aren’t synonymous. But helping a person feel fulfilled at work can be a driving force in sparking happiness. 

No one can feel fulfilled if they don’t understand what they’re working toward. It is imperative to clearly communicate where the “ship” of your company is headed, and what your team members’ roles are on that journey. As a leader, your job is to remove any barriers to their success. 

Ensuring they understand that your goal is to clear the path for their achievements — and following through on that — builds on the foundation of trust you have established and drives home that successes are a team effort.

When people understand how their individual successes contribute to achieving the company’s overarching goals, they gain a sense of agency and a boost of confidence, adding to that feeling of fulfillment. 

Again: Time is precious. Helping employees make the most of their time will ultimately lead to more joy in the workplace.

3. Encourage Community Action Both Internally And Externally 

The corporate world has recently seen an overdue rise in social justice awareness, leading to an increase in social responsibility measures. These programs foster agency and encourage actively addressing community needs. Moving forward, they must be table stakes.

Don’t just pay lip service to a cause by creating an observable connection to this kind of action. Involve the whole company, creating yet another opportunity for employees to find joy by rallying around a shared cause beyond their day-to-day work. Your whole team can contribute to meaningful, positive change in your community.

At InvoiceCloud (and across all EngageSmart solutions), one of our core pillars is impact — a commitment to serving our communities. We encourage team members to not only volunteer with EngageSmart for causes we support as a company but also to choose causes they care about on a personal level and endeavor to give back to those organizations.

When employees volunteer for local causes, they can clearly see the power they have to cultivate change for the better. And working to lift others up within our team and in the broader community sparks immense joy.

InvoiceCloud’s Braintree, Massachusetts office participating in the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless program, A Bed for Every Child.

The past few years have shown all of us the importance of finding and sharing happiness wherever we can. And if we’re not supporting each other in living as joyfully as we can with the time we have, in the workplace and beyond, we’re not doing it right.

If you’re interested in joining a team that strives to inject joy into the workplace, check out our open positions at InvoiceCloud and other EngageSmart solutions.

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