How to Experience True Joy at Work


Joyful Workplace.  Is this an oxymoron?  Or is it possible to experience joy within the work environment?   Research shows that it takes deep experiences to reach a feeling of true joy.

Joy goes beyond happiness.  It is defined as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation (”  Great delight. Exceptional satisfaction.  Keen pleasure.   True joy is that feeling of hitting it out of the ballpark.  Or, getting a surprise visit from a childhood friend.  Joy is an unsolicited “I love you” from a teenage child.

Joy is an emotion that is not always easy to tap in to.  So, how can you experience joy while at work?

Workplace Incentives

Everyone loves incentives.  It makes employees feel great to bring home gift cards or bonuses when meeting certain metrics.  When companies offer perks to teams for goals met, it builds unity.  Incentives make employees happy.

Comfortable workspaces, clean environments, new equipment, and even the Keurig coffee maker—these are all great things.  Employers should offer these kinds of happy incentives, but to reach a feeling of true joy, one must go beyond external motivators.

True Joy Comes from a Feeling of Accomplishment

Many leaders lead by telling employees what to do.  All is well as long as work is being completed.

But, a better way to lead people involves influencing over telling.  Influencing means giving employees guidelines, but letting them come up with the best path to take.  It is listening to ideas and trusting employees.

If employers do this, then employees can begin to experience a feeling of personal accomplishment.  This inspires joy.  Author of Chief Joy Officer, Richard Sheridan, describes it like this: Telling is fast, easy and expedient. Influence is harder. It involves taking the time to understand the people you are trying to lead. It requires you to listen and respond when there is pushback and conflict. It builds a stronger team.”

Employees need the freedom and opportunity to accomplish.  Think back to the joy you experienced in your youth when you learned to ride a bike or jump off the high dive.  You never could have felt that joy without having the opportunity to make accomplishments.

True Joy Comes from Laughter

Can you name the coworker with the best laugh?  Does your office culture allow people to be themselves? Time and time again, polls have shown that employees’ number one reason for loving their job is the people they work with (

Laughter can actually boost physical health.  Donald Altman, in The Joy Compass, cites a study where cancer patients who watched a humorous video had increased immune function.  Laughter has also been shown to boost immunity and reduce depression.

Sharing fun and funny moments with co-workers increases employee joy in the workplace.  Storytelling (by management as well as among coworkers) is a great way to build community.  Many joyful times come from off-the-cuff moments when people feel comfortable enough to be themselves.

True Joy Comes from Positive Thinking

Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are, why you are, and who you are not with (Sandra Brown, Psychology Today).  To increase joy, employ positive self-talk instead of putting yourself and others down.  Think of the best case scenario in situations.  Try not to compare yourself to others in negative ways, but instead focus on your own strengths and how you are a unique asset to the company.

True Joy Comes from Charitable Giving

This may surprise you, but research shows that people experience joy when they give to others.  This could be through the gift of time, money, or talents.  Some workplaces host company-wide charitable events, making it easier for employees to experience joy with each other through giving.  If this is not in place, consider starting something or encouraging participation in a 5K, holiday food drive, or another local event.

It may not be possible to experience joy at work. You may be in a spot where you need to make a change. Are you brave enough to make a career change?

Artemis Consultants know that employees can experience joy within the work environment.  If you are in a position where you feel this is not possible, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Consider signing up to receive Artemis’s Job Alerts for our most current opportunities in software, technology, data, and B2B Services.  We also offer a $500 referral bonus program.

“Joyful workplace” does not need to be an oxymoron– it’s within reach for anyone who seeks it.

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