I know we all experience joy in our personal lives. Weddings, the birth of children, graduations, new jobs and personal growth certainly create a sense of joy. I know things like this do so for me.
However, do you experience joy in your professional life?
That may take a minute to process, and with regret I would guess many of us would have a hard time answering a resounding “YES!” to that question. Certainly, milestones like getting a long sought-after position, annual bonuses, meeting and exceeding tough goals, being recognized for achievement, all can create a sense of happiness and fulfillment, if not outright joy.
We are coming into the season where gratitude can play a key role in keeping up our spirits. A sense of joy in what we do can offset many of the challenges we face in staying positive, especially in challenging times.
Last month I wrote a blog about the importance of trust in the workplace. At least one study has shown that a sense of trust can increase the productivity and motivation of both ourselves and the teams we work with.
Recently I came upon another article from the Harvard Business Review titled “Making Joy a Priority at Work” by Alex Liu (Harvard Business Review, July 17, 2019, read it here).
Why joy as a priority? Liu says: “Amid the dazzle and hopes of the digital age, it is easy to forget that old-fashioned human desire is as essential to achieving business goals as ever.” But, as he notes, “…many companies struggle because their cultures get in the way — too many layers and silos, too many colleagues who prefer to stay in their comfort zones, bask in their KPIs [Key Performance Indicators], and resist new ways of connecting and working.”
What to do? “…joy can be a big part of the solution. Why? For two reasons. People intrinsically seek joy. And joy connects people more powerfully than almost any other human experience.”
He uses sports as an example. Who among us has not witnessed the raucous celebrations that erupt after our favorite team wins? And winning seems to breed success, if for no other reason that feeling the joy of accomplishing something meaningful feels pretty dang good. Don’t we all want to keep feeling like this?
Liu suggests that business leaders can build joy into their organizations by focusing on three key behavioral elements: Harmony, Impact and Acknowledgement.
- “ On winning teams, each player has a distinct role in achieving the goal. One player might be a great passer. Another is a great scorer. Yet another may bring a certain intensity and competitive fire. When the diverse skills and strengths of teammates are really clicking together, it feels great.”
- “Impact. Team harmony leads to impact, which further fuels joy. Even if the result is just a single sublime play or golden moment, the palpable joy of each teammate rises.”
- “Acknowledgment. Great coaches instruct their players to, when they score, immediately point to the teammates who created the scoring opportunity. Acknowledging each player’s contributions and cheering for each other powers the entire joy-success-joy cycle.”
Is the impact of joy in the workplace quantifiable? Yes, according to Liu. A.T. Kearny did a survey in December 2018 that dealt with employee’s experiences of joy in the workplace. The results? There is a direct correlation between feeling more joy in work and being able to work in harmony, have impact and thus being acknowledged for accomplishments.
All roses? Not quite. “…[T]he survey also points to a pronounced “joy gap” at work. Nearly 90% of respondents said that they expect to experience a substantial degree of joy at work, yet only 37% report that such is their actual experience.”
The consequence: “Business leaders tend to think a great deal about success, but rarely about joy. Chances are, few are even aware of the joy gap in their organization and the resulting lack of interpersonal connection and team aspiration. That must change.”
How to do that? Liu has three key steps to enhance workplace joy”
- “Set the agenda. Make the experience of joy an explicit corporate purpose. Strengthen your inclusion agenda to incorporate meaningful efforts toward ensuring all employees feel heard, recognized, and acknowledged.”
- “Set the stage. Staff your new digital/culture programs with true cross-unit, cross-silo teams, where joint teamwork delivers maximum impact, shared success, and fun.”
- “Set the tone. Encourage and celebrate individual and corporate social impact efforts. Authentically express more of the joy you personally experience in your role. Joy begets joy.”
How does A. Alliance try to create that sense of joy in our workplace? Especially in an industry as tough and challenging as debt collection?
Well, each year the management team designates the entire month of November as Team Appreciation Month. You will hear more about that in the weeks ahead, but suffice to say the intent is to show intentional appreciation for the superlative efforts our team puts forth during the year. Working as closely as we do, working as a team is imperative, and when we achieve our goals, we all feel pretty joyful. That, of course, in turn, becomes high quality service and results for you our valued clients.
Thank you for being our valued clients and for bringing us a sense of joy when we are successful for you!
A. Alliance Collection Agency, Inc. is a full service, licensed accounts receivable management and debt collection agency providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Founded in northern Illinois in 2005, we have been proudly improving the bottom-line on behalf of our business partners in and around Chicagoland for over 14 years.