6 Ways to Create More Joy at Work

Great leaders are joy inducers. Not the giddy kind of joy, but deep-seeded joy that comes from inspired and meaningful contribution. Inspiring joy is a pragmatic pursuit. I’ve yet to encounter a truly joyful poor performer.

Last week, I asked all my social media circles to identify three things they liked most about their job. There was a deep feeling of passion and joy throughout the comments. It’s not to late to contribute. The themes were remarkably consistent and a useful guide for leaders looking to inspire greater joy and higher performance on their teams.

6 Ways to Create More Joy at Work

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Rabindranath Tagore

For a more joyous, engaged and high-performing team look for ways to maximize these six aspects of the job design and interaction.

1.Meaningful Work

People long to contribute to an important cause that’s aligned with their values. Help your team understand the bigger impact they are making on the world. They’re not selling smartphones–they’re enabling connection, providing safety in emergencies, and simplifying people’s lives. They’re not just cleaning bathrooms–they’re creating a clean environment that reduces the spread of disease. Helping employees find the right job that fits with who they are and what they value matters, even if that means leaving your organization. A vital aspect of leadership is aligning people where they can make the biggest contribution.

2. Good People

People want to work with good human beings. Take the time to hire class acts who will treat others with dignity and respect. Provide opportunities for your team to truly get to know, and enjoy one another, as people.

3. Helping Others

People want to feel useful. Almost any job can be designed so that helping others is part of the role.

4. Learning

People want to learn new things. Learning is energizing and provides a sense of forward momentum. Be sure you’re adding enough stretch to the mix to challenge your team to grow.

5. Freedom

People want to be treated like grown-ups and given the freedom to bring their own ideas and creativity to the scene. Look for opportunities to step back and let them decide how to best approach the goal.

6. Mastering a Craft

People want to feel confident and competent in their work. Find opportunities to support mastery and enhance professional standing.

Well-designed work creates joyful teams. Joyful teams spread optimism. Optimism changes the game.

Posted in Employee Engagement & Energy and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


    • amen! Actually, VZW is big on gyms. It’s great on building energy and positivity, and also helping employees get to know one another on an informal basis. I had one boss (a female) who would invite me to work out with her at 7 am when her calendar got too crowded. We always accomplished a great deal in those “meetings.”

  1. Surely these six steps should be at the start of every leadership book?
    (or maybe just one)

    They are succinct, with the potential from the ripple effect being enormous.
    Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Love this list, Karin!

    All are important, but I do think that helping employees engage in work that has both meaning and value is critical as a starting point. The rest are also needed, and may even be enough if the work is not rewarding—for a while.

    Eventually, we all get to that point where it’s more than about drawing a paycheck…no one wants to live a life of regret for what might have been if we’d just followed our heart…

  3. “People want to learn new things. Learning is energizing and provides a sense of forward momentum. ”

    So true! I particularly appreciate funding to learn skills that the outside world values (e.g. project management, accounting etc).

    • Bruce, So agree. That was one of the real joys at Verizon. I got to go to some great external educational experiences: Wharton, Columbia…. that really made me feel invested in and valued.

  4. These six advices should help achieving that “happy” feeling when waking up in the morning knowing you have to go to work. I particularly liked the accent on meaning work and I might add that each person’s passion should be correlated with that. I might add having a poster with a smiley face at the entrance to promote smiles. Endorphins are released while smiling or laughing. Plus, there is actually a lot of research indicating that laughter can lead to better teamwork, higher productivity, and increased job satisfaction.

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