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If you ask yourself, over the course of your career, how often you have felt a sense of joy or fun at work, how would you answer? The term “work” has been typically equated with toil, labor, or something to be endured. And for many people, that is exactly what their experience is.

Can Work and Joy Be Allies?

We spend approximately 90,000 hours during a lifetime in some work capacity. Given that’s about a third of our life, it seems worthwhile to make that experience as joy and fun-filled as possible. In the enlightened workplace, joy and fun are not only present, they are encouraged, supported and embraced at all levels of the organization.

Think for a moment about a project that your team is working on. How much joy is present across the team? Is there an opportunity for more fun, harmony or acknowledgement to enable individuals to have a greater impact?

10 Actions to Bring Joy into Your Workplace

Based on decades of working with clients and in workplaces where joy and fun run the gamut from being encouraged to being non-existent, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations:

  1. Start by examining your own beliefs about joy and fun at work. What do you wish your own prior managers practiced and gave permission for around joy and fun?
  2. Make a culture of joy a corporate priority or company value.
  3. Determine the unique strengths of your team members and find ways to utilize them.
  4. Set aside budget and time for social activities for your team where the sole purpose is fun and connection, not work.
  5. Seek out and develop friendships at work. Encourage your team members to do the same whether via coffee meets, lunches, or social activities outside of work.
  6. Evaluate deadlines and work pressures your team is under to see if they can be eased or if more support can be given.
  7. Express gratitude for people’s contributions on a regular basis and encourage your team members to do the same.
  8. For onsite workplaces, have games and activities available in breakrooms. For remote workplaces, use social enterprise tools such as Workplace and Slack where people can share stories, pictures and games.
  9. Surprise your team with company-wide paid days off. People are more likely to shut down when the whole company shuts down.
  10. Surprise team members with notes or cards that recognize and acknowledge them, and where possible, set aside budget for small tokens of appreciation like coffee gift cards, flowers, or bottles of wine.

Leaders and Managers can Unlock Joy

Leaders and managers aren’t typically trained to look for ways to enable more joy and fun on their teams, but if you can unlock the power of those within your team, you are likely to witness a transformation of culture.

Research shared in Harvard Business Review in February shows that leaders with any sense of humor are seen as 27% more motivating and admired than those without, with their employees being 15% more engaged and teams more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge.

It seems pretty clear that a work culture that embraces joy and fun as a matter of practice, and has happy, positive people in it, will enjoy increased levels of productivity and performance.

Create an Enlightened Workplace

Would you like to create more joy in your workplace? Could your workplace use more enlightenment in general? Be part of the movement by joining The Enlightened Workplace Project.

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Kristin Brownstone

Kristin Brownstone is Vice President, Strategist at ROI, co-creator of The Enlightened Workplace Project, and a professional public speaking and personal transformation coach.

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Barbara Fagan-Smith

Barbara Fagan-Smith, the founder and CEO of ROI Communication, has three decades of experience in business, corporate communications and journalism.

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