A joyful request

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by a valued client whether I would deliver a workshop for their team around ‘joy’. Yes – joy. I think I probably paused at the request to ensure I’d heard it correctly and, when it was confirmed, I began to smile and my mind began to race. The word was stark in this context. I’d not really associated ‘joy’ with ‘work’ too strongly before (mostly, I associate it with Christmas time and particular carols). Yet in a few moments of consideration and reflection it began to make sense.

Joy and resilience

I have delivered workshops for teams and groups around resilience for years – what are the tools, resources, attitudes which enable us to bounce-back from adversity and remain productive. The context has often been one of difficulty, where organisations have been reducing workforce numbers, for example, or facing unprecedented change. Compared to joy, this seemed like an approach centred around deficit and reaction rather than positivity, vision and the true wellness of people.
I started to read more and discovered the IHI Framework for Improving Joy in Work which states that, ‘joy in work is more than just the absence of burnout or an issue of individual wellness; it is a system property. It is generated (or not) by the system and occurs (or not) organization-wide. Joy in work — or lack thereof — not only impacts individual staff engagement and satisfaction, but also patient experience, quality of care, patient safety, and organizational performance (p.5)’.

The business case for joy at work

As I read on, I began to recognise the compelling nature of the argument that addressing joy in work ‘is a step toward creating safe, humane places for people to find meaning and purpose in their work….[while] the business case draws on outcomes of the work environment, including engagement, satisfaction, patient experience, burnout, and turnover rates’.
So I’m looking forward to inviting the team to consider what joy looks like, sounds like and feels like for them, what really matters at work, what makes a good day and what gets in the way. We’ll be exploring what’s really important and plotting a route towards it. And, as the IHI report states, ‘listen up! “Joy in work” is not flaky, I promise you. Improving joy in work is possible, important, and effective…..and you might well find that the joy it helps uncover is, in large part, your own’.

I wonder what difference exploring joy in your workplace will make for you, your colleagues and those you serve?