Joy at Work(er) Blog

It may be a company ending mistake to “Go Back” to the office

The increasing frequency of calls to “go back” to the office is not surprising.  The past year-and-a-half has been anywhere from difficult to deadly for nearly everyone on the planet.  Who wouldn’t want to roll back the clock?  Sure, we had worries back then, but, for most of the world, it was not a trade-off between your livelihood and your life.  Now, with increasing vaccination rates (although there are important concerns about new variants and resurgent infection rates), it is possible to contemplate a return to normalcy.  So, of course, talk about going back to the office has been increasing in the last couple of months and will only increase through the summer and early fall.  But before pulling the trigger on the announcement that everyone in your organization should “go back” to the office consider the impact of the Great Resignation. 

The Great Resignation

Texas A&M Associate Professor Anthony Klotz coined...

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In Search of Meaningful Work

joy at work Mar 15, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

Imagine this: You love your work. You love being absorbed by it. You feel your life’s purpose reflected in the work you do and you can see the impact it’s having. Your family and friends are proud of you and the work you do. They can see why it’s important, why it drives you. Even on those most hair-raising days leaving you completely rung out you still feel deep satisfaction because you know your energy and time is worth the effort. 
Nirvana, right? Maybe this is you today. Or, maybe this was you at some point in the past. Maybe it's something you wish for. The question is, how can you cultivate meaningful work?
Turns out even if you don’t have a deep, meaningful connection to your work today, there are still ways to bring meaning into your world of work without leaving your current position.
Like what? Well, you could…

  • Slowly expand the time you spend on the more meaningful parts of your work
  • ...
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Rethinking What Work Means in Life

change joy at work Mar 01, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

Today, many people are asking themselves what it means to work. Most of us have to work to financially support ourselves and others, to be safe in this world, to create the life we want to have. Because that’s true it gets complicated. There are a lot of questions to consider:

How am I going to spend my time working?
How am I going to allow myself to be treated? How will I treat others no matter how I’m treated?
What choices do I feel I have to work to financially support myself and others?
What is a life worth living and how does work factor into that?

The impact of the pandemic has been felt deeply, uniquely among a huge number of us. Because this has been a prolonged experience, change has happened. It’s hard to see the implications but people are reevaluating what work means in a person’s life.

How have your thoughts about work evolved over this past year? What crazy ideas have you entertained? How have you created choices for...

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Disagreement Might Actually Be Engagement or Even Progress

Written by Roxanne Brown

Instead of feeling defensive and beat up by a conversation at work that’s filled with debate, maybe you should feel excited!

Sometimes what looks or sounds like disagreement is actually a sign that people are trying to engage with your idea.

When people ask “why?” questions, they’re telling you they need to be convinced.

When people ask “how?” questions, it means they’re at least a little convinced, if not completely convinced, and have moved on to imagining how to implement your idea.

When people ask “what about?” questions, it means they’re pretty convinced, even hopeful you’re right, but have a concern you need to address to help them see what you see.

If they agree to try to apply your idea to something low risk and smallish, then you’ve got a chance to create an ally! The goal is to stay open and listen to what people are telling you they need.

Often what looks like resistance to...

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What is Joy at Work?

joy at work Feb 20, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

We see Joy at Work as this…an employee’s willingness to:

Commit, Participate, be Accountable
Belong and act with Cohesion
Adapt and Grow
Demonstrate Respect
Act with Integrity

Joy at Work exists when…

1. The company, leaders, and managers continually cultivate the environment and extend the invitation to employees to contribute in this way.
2. Employees constantly accept the invitation.

From this definition, you can see that Joy at Work is a two-way street. It’s not solely the company’s responsibility or the leader or manager’s responsibility. But it’s also not solely the responsibility of the employee. All have a role in Joy at Work.

You’ll also notice that we use the words cultivate, constantly and continuously. That’s purposeful as well. That’s because we know that you don’t achieve Joy at Work, and you’re done. It’s not a goal or ultimate destination. It’s something...

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How To Be Adaptable

joy at work joy research Feb 20, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

The trick to adaptability is to have a strong point of view based on your experience and expertise yet hold a state of openness to take in and lightly evaluate new information, to see how your perspective changes and see if there’s any utility in that shift to the problem at hand.

When people struggle to adapt it’s often because the new information is in conflict with their personal values or outside their life’s experience. When you find yourself in this situation, it’s useful to explore what’s behind your struggle.

It’s okay to have a strong point of view. In fact, your employer may have hired you specifically for that point of view! Adaptability means you’re willing to learn and evolve or expand your thinking as a result. It means you are willing to accept that some situations require a different way of doing things.

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What it Means to be Adaptable at Work

change joy at work Feb 19, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

Being adaptable at work means you’re willing to learn and evolve or expand your thinking. It means you’re willing to accept that some situations require different ways of doing things. Yes, you have experience that tells you what’s wise but you also know that evolving as a human is wise too. It’s okay to consider new information, or even old information in a new light. Your experience has value and learning adds value to that.

A willingness to adapt equips you to see change in a positive way too, not just negatively. It empowers you to take ownership of your experience and see the possibilities that emerge from that ownership. It allows you to see how you can have a positive impact on your colleagues and the work you do together.

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Our Vision of Work Can Be

joy at work leadership Feb 18, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

The first time we created Joy at Work on a team (a huge group of 250 people located all over the country), everyone asked us how we did it…

Was it more…

• Team lunches?
• Ice cream socials?
• Scavenger hunts?
• Roleplay simulations?
• Game competitions?
• Office spa days?
• Juggling lessons?


Those were indications of Joy at Work that you might have seen if you visited us, but they happened because the team made them happen.

As leaders, we worked every day to build trust, belonging, cohesion, commitment, accountability, adaptability and respect on the team. We also demonstrated integrity and growth and encouraged that in others.

Little by little the team trusted us to give them the space and protection to be inspired, to be themselves, to help each other, to be creative, to take risks and to relentlessly solve hard problems every day.

It was awesome. We want this for everyone. It’s our vision of what work...

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Why Belonging is Important for Joy

joy at work Feb 18, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

Why is belonging an important contributor to joy in the workplace?
When people are willing to belong there is greater potential for integration of unique talents among team members to solve problems. When people feel valued by their organization they are encouraged to participate and expand their contribution.

What are signs that belonging is working well for a company?
* Holding space for others to gather thoughts and share ideas; people stating back what was heard to confirm they heard others correctly; encouragement of others to participate; open sharing of ideas.
* Seeking input from individuals that demonstrates an accurate understanding of that person’s unique capabilities and contribution that can applied to solve the problem at hand.
* Specific acknowledgement of a colleague’s work, capabilities and contribution and the value of that to the group or mission of the company.

What are signs that belonging isn’t working well for a...

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How Do I Know I Belong?

joy at work joy research Feb 15, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

How do my work colleagues, leaders and company tell me I belong?

* When there’s specific acknowledgment of my work, capabilities and contributions by others
* When I’m included in work projects and conversations that are specific to my unique capabilities and contribution
* When I’m given roles, jobs, work assignments, titles and/or promotions that are considered valuable to the group and are specific to my unique capabilities and contribution
* When my work results are integrated in the culture in ways that are considered valuable to the group
* When I receive requests for my input that are specific to my unique capabilities and contribution

Joy at Work Indicator: Belonging

“My unique capabilities and contributions have value here. I know that because I can see for myself how my capabilities and contributions have value in delivering the organization’s purpose and others communicate my value back to me.”

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