Joy isn’t an emotion we typically associate with the workplace — but it should be! Cultivating a joyful employee experience is the kind of investment that results in long-term engagement.
Focusing on employee experience is gaining traction as the new, more sustainable way to tackle low engagement.
“Inside of most organizations around the world, employee engagement has simply become a way to force employees to work in outdated workplace practices while giving them perks to make them happy,” author Jacob Morgan writes for Inc.
A perks-focused strategy is “a short-term adrenaline shot designed to boost the annual employee engagement scores,” but it won’t have lasting impact without a more holistic approach.
“Instead,” Morgan writes, “organizations are shifting to employee experience, which is the long-term organizational design that creates new workplace practices around people.”
Base your employee experience on building, creating and choosing joy. A joyful employee experience is key to a productive and happy workplace culture.
In a commencement speech to 4,700 students at the University of California at Berkeley last year, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg brought up the practice of joy. It’s vital to resilience and overcoming failure, she said.
“In the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning,” she said. “You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it … In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”
The 3 Ingredients at the Heart of Employee Experience
Employee experience is a combination of three environmental factors, according to Jacob Morgan, author of “The Employee Experience Advantage.” These are:
- A healthy, intuitive workspace that fosters a sense of belonging
- The right tools and technology, including opportunities for real-time feedback and flexible work
- A culture employees can celebrate
How your company improves workspace and technology depends on your specific industry and organizational needs. Creating a better culture is more universal.
Companies need to look at all three factors, but culture is the heart of employee experience — “and it’s also the trickiest one to master since it’s not a tangible thing,” Morgan writes.
What is culture?
“It’s the feeling that employees get working for your organization. If you think of any prescription drug that has side effects, the culture is the side effects of your organization,” Morgan writes.
More CEOs are seeing culture-building — and by extension, experience-building — as core to their jobs. USA Today recently credited Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella with “reinvigorating the company’s in-house mojo.”
“What I realize more than ever now is that my job is curation of our culture,” Nadella told USA Today. “If you don’t focus on creating a culture that allows people to do their best work, then you’ve created nothing.”
The Joyful Employee Experience: What Feeds It
Joy is an expression of happiness, but it’s deeper and more lasting than the fleeting “pleasures, thrills and gratifications” we typically associate with happiness, according to Prevention Magazine.
Finding a great deal on boots? A thrill. Connecting deeply with other people? Joy!
In the workplace, by far the biggest predictor of joy is a culture in which employees feel invested in the work and are able to share a sense of ownership with coworkers.
Research shows that “autonomy, influence and a sense of meaning are associated with lower stress and fewer work-related illnesses, regardless of hours worked,” Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes for Harvard Business Review. “Supervisors are better off than the supervised, and entrepreneurs are the best-off of all.”
“This suggests that exerting leadership is the surest route to joy.”
Not everyone can be a supervisor, of course, but everyone should feel a sense of ownership and leadership in the specific job they do.
How is this done?
[Tweet “”A contagious joyful attitude can spread. A rising tide of joy floats all boats.” —Guy Kawasaki”] According to author Guy Kawasaki, joy is no accident. “If you don’t try to build a joyful company, you’ll never achieve one by accident,” he writes in a HuffPo blog post, “Your Workplace Can Improve By Adding Joy.”
Fear is the opposite of joy, Kawasaki points out, so one of your objectives should be to banish fear through better communication, transparency and shared knowledge.
Next, focus on building community and communicating gratitude. Employees need to understand why what they do is meaningful — not just to the bottom line, but on a personal level: why is their work meaningful to leadership, customers, coworkers, the greater community? — and receive recognition for doing it well.
Gratitude, in fact, is “one of the most significant ways of increasing joy,” according to Prevention Magazine.
“One study found that those who regularly recorded what they were thankful for in ‘gratitude journals’ showed higher levels of optimism, enthusiasm, attentiveness and energy, and they felt better about their life as a whole,” Andrea Malin writes for Prevention.
It works both ways. Incoming gratitude is just as important. Malin describes this as “experiencing recognition from the outside world.”
Best of all, studies show that those who receive gratitude are more likely to share gratitude in the workplace — and this feedback loop builds a joyful employee experience. Everyone benefits from workplace gratitude!
Free Resource: Your Day-to-Day Employee Engagement Calendar
We all need inspiration to make employee appreciation a daily habit. gThankYou’s 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Be inspired; download yours today, absolutely free.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
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