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Joy at Work(er) Blog

The Crisis of Emotional Capital

The last couple of years forced two global experiments, one in remote education and the other in remote work. Much of these two experiments are about human interaction. They explore what it means to communicate, to lead, to teach. The final and full understanding of those two experiments is yet to come. It may take years. But there is an opportunity now to gain insight into human interaction, specifically at work, and use that insight to create better workplaces that grow Joy at Work.

Much of the coronavirus-driven pandemic analysis has been about the loss of Financial Capital. Rightly so, given the estimated impact, according to an International Monetary Fund Report, is a lingering 3% even another two years out. With global GDP at about $90 Trillion that means more than $2.5 Trillion lost every year until we recover!  

In talking with clients across a range of industries and sizes, we have learned of another hidden loss: Emotional Capital. In conversation after...

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Employee Engagement Hinges on a Handful of Influencers

Written by Ed Cook

With the Great Resignation causing distressing amounts of employee turnover and dismal employee retention numbers, Employee Engagement is front of mind for many leaders. What employee engagement is, however, can be elusive.  Some see it as activities associated with team building.  Some see it as an application of Positive Psychology.  Some as employee wellness.  All of these are part of Employee Engagement but not enough to fully describe it.  Seminars and workshops on Positive Psychology abound, yet surveys and research on employee morale and mental health show continued declines.  Many have experienced team-building activities like ropes courses. There can be a certain thrill to hanging upside down in a harness held by your teammates but mostly these activities provide engagement for the day, but, like a candy bar, the sugar rush rapidly fades and they are left empty.  Mental and physical health have declined in the...

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If You Want to Generate Smiles at Work Today

Written by Roxanne Brown

If you want to generate more smiles at work today, here are some ideas to help your team feel appreciated…

  • In conversations, hold space for your team members to gather their thoughts and share ideas: "In this conversation, please feel free to take a moment to pause and reflect and then tell us what you think.” 
  • Listen and take in a coworker's idea, then say, “Thank you, I hadn’t thought about it like that before.”
  • Confirm you’ve heard a coworker correctly by stating back what you’ve heard: “Before I respond, I want to make sure I heard you. You said [restate what they said]. Did I get that right?” 
  • Include colleagues in conversations because of their unique skills and expertise and tell them how valuable that is to solving the problem. 
  • Point out how the results of a colleague’s work has shifted the culture of the company for the better.
  • Tell someone how their work has...
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Joy at Work Monday Message: Personal Struggle & Helping


It's okay if you're struggling! There are healthy and constructive ways to talk about personal struggles in the workplace. Spread some Joy at Work by making it easy to discuss and help each other.

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Joy at Work Monday Message: Feedback & Motivation


Sometimes it can be hard to stay motivated, especially when you're working in a virtual workplace where it's hard to get feedback and reactions to your work. Spread some Joy at Work by sharing your feedback with colleagues!

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

Written by Ed Cook

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...

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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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How would describe the best team you've ever led or been part of?

team engagement Oct 15, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

When we ask people to describe the best team they’ve ever led or been part of, they usually say things like:

• We had each other’s back
• We had a hard goal to overcome and we were clear on the destination
• It was hard but we all focused
• People helped each other
• We laughed and did silly things to keep ourselves going
• We debated and tried things
• We took risks and sometimes we failed but we mostly had confidence that we could recover

It’s remarkably consistent!

When people are preoccupied with self-protecting and surviving at work they’re not focused on their work and the contribution they were hired to make so that the company achieves its purpose. Joy at work is about cultivating what supports people to thrive the most at work, together and individually, through good times and hard times. Joy at Work is about a way of being so the focus can be on the work itself.

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Own Your Impact

Written by Roxanne Brown

Own your impact. You were hired because you matter so do the work as if your work matters.

If your employer doesn’t know your work matters then you might consider a change in the future. Not to run away but to give yourself the gift of something better for your life.

Signs that your employer believes your work matters:

  • They spend time explaining why they’ve asked you to do something.
  • They spend time explaining the bigger picture to you.
  • They pay you/don’t fire you even when you make a huge, impactful mistake.
  • They spend time and energy doing damage control activities after you make a mistake.
  • They renegotiate timelines and expectations with others when you’ve dropped the ball.
  • They avoid you because they’re upset with you and worried that they might say something that would cause you harm.
  • They work with you to develop new skills or so learn from mistakes.
  • They invest in your growth.

Celebrate if you have this! And, do...

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The Subtext of Conflict

Written by Roxanne Brown

Sometimes this is the subtext of work conflict:

Employee to employer: I feel hurt by the way you treated me. [I work hard for you and this company.]

Employer to employee: I feel hurt by the way you treated me. [I’ve invested a lot in you, for you and this company.]

The power dynamic:
The employer has the power to retain or fire the employee.
The employee has the power to do the work in a more-or-less acceptable way.

The risk is inertia or a transactional employer-employee relationship. The risk is a negative impact to the culture, the business, customers, other people on the team.

Questions to ask: What is my part in this? What do I own? What’s in my power to do to rebuild trust between us? What would I like most from the other person? Why? How can I ask for it in a way that treats us both with respect?

It may not work out, but reframing gets to the constructive place.

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