“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating new things.” Antione de Saint Exupery

If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for a colleague, consider joy. Most of us don’t begin the workday expecting anything joyful. In fact, according to Gallup about 85 percent of people in the global workplace are either not engaged or disengaged.

Over a lifetime, we spend approximately 90,000 hours working. Wouldn’t it be great if we could invest a bigger portion of that significant time in giving and receiving joy?

Maybe one reason people aren’t happy at work is because they don’t expect to find happiness there. Association professionals routinely deliver amazing things for their organizations. Why don’t we turn some of that awesomeness back on each other? Let’s make joy a priority.

When I Googled “How to create joy at work” these are a few of the best ideas I found.


How easy is that! You just have to remember to do it, which isn’t always as simple as it sounds. There’s a reason they call it work. Occasionally stress gets the upper hand. It can be hard to remember to greet your comrades in disruption with a happy face. A fierce look isn’t going to get the job done any better or more quickly. If you can manage it, a more relaxed expression will make others comfortable and might mean fewer missteps and faster progress in the right direction.

Make Kindness a Value

I wish kindness was as easy as smiling. You only need to watch the news to understand how challenging it can be to make kindness a way of life.

Make random acts of kindness a habit.

Being kind isn’t the same as being nice. It doesn’t preclude the bad news and uncomfortable conversations that are an inevitable part of being a boss. But kindness means that you treat everyone with respect and that criticism is offered in the spirit of support and caring.

If you make kindness official by designating it as an organizational value, you can weave the threads of consideration throughout your team. Kindness is a foundation for equity and inclusion. It’s a natural fit and powerful reinforcement to DEI programs. Practicing kindness with intention puts us closer to realizing the best in ourselves.

No one is perfect. It can be a challenge in self-control to avoid saying something you regret in those “I told you so” moments. But if you make random acts of kindness a habit, you build credit for times when being too much yourself is inevitable.

These are ten simple things you can do to make someone else’s workday more pleasant.

  1. Offer an unexpected compliment.
  2. Write a note of appreciation or thanks.
  3. Ask how a colleague who is going through a rough patch is doing. Take time to listen to the answer. Offer support.
  4. Take someone to lunch who isn’t frequently invited.
  5. Offer to help when help isn’t expected.
  6. Bring a colleague their favorite Starbucks beverage.
  7. Volunteer for a task or chore that no one else wants.
  8. Chat with someone you don’t usually talk to.
  9. Publicly recognize a colleague’s expertise.
  10. Bring treats.

Create a Comfortable Environment

One of the reasons people are eager to work from home is because it is a place where they are comfortable. If you are the leader, take steps to make your workplace more inviting.

Although I doubt that many organizations still need a Casual Friday, if your group is a holdout, this is an easy, high-impact fix. Work is more pleasant in clothing that feels good.

Survey the office and evaluate the comfort quotient. Do employees have ergonomic equipment and furniture? Is the lighting appropriate and suitable for the tasks? Are there areas where workers have privacy as well as places to collaborate?

The physics of the office make a significant difference in how people feel in the space. An investment in quality office furnishings is not a superfluous expense. It’s hard to be productive with a sore back. Give your team a choice between sitting and standing workstations. The right chair and desk might help you keep that perfect employee from being lured to a cozier place.

If your team is remote, don’t expect people to work at the kitchen table. Budget funds for upgrades to home offices.

Promote Wellness    

Demonstrate that you care about your employees both inside and outside the workplace. Good health adds joy to every activity. Consider establishing a wellness program for your organization. There are a wide range of opportunities to choose from. Plans can be tailored to your group’s needs and goals.

Demonstrate that you care about your employees inside and outside the workplace.

 If you’re not ready to hire a third-party provider to customize a special initiative, these are smaller steps you can take to promote a healthier work lifestyle.

  • Offer a gym membership as a benefit.
  • Allocate time off for exercise.
  • Create a wellness committee to develop initiatives.
  • Recognize employees for participation in sporting events such as marathons or tournaments.
  • Encourage employees to use their vacation time and lunch breaks.
  • Cater a healthy group lunch every quarter.
  • Invite speakers to present to your group on wellness topics.

Beyond the obvious benefits, encouraging wellness demonstrates that in addition to investing in your team’s professionalism, you also want to support their happiness.

Take Fun Seriously

Mixing fun with work creates space for innovation and creativity to grow. People who laugh together are better equipped to meet challenges and solve problems as a group. Find ways to encourage both organized and casual activities.

Be inventive and try something different or appoint a social committee to give your team ownership of the process.

Kevin Hostutler, President, CEO, and Co-Founder of ACGI Software shared an idea with me that resonates on multiple levels. It mixes fun with creativity, innovation, communication, and professional growth.

“To get everyone thinking creatively, we added a Shark Tank component to our company meetings,” Kevin advised. “It gives any employee with an idea a platform to present their innovation. The concepts can range from technology tools to work environment and process improvement, but the request must be specific. The goal is to get one or more executives to sponsor the initiative. We work with submitters on their pitches to help them consolidate their thoughts, articulate their propositions, and have the courage to defend their idea in front of the entire company.

“One of the first projects we supported was to build an Alexa integration into the database. The group asked for $50 for equipment (to buy an echo dot, a speaker that connects to Alexa) and three people for two days to do a hackathon. Plus, they wanted pizza delivered for dinner. We requested specificity and got it! It was fabulous to see them pitch their ideas and field feedback from peers and executives. A successful two-day hackathon and four pizzas later, that feature is an important part of our product line and our strategy for an improved user experience.

I like the way this concept combines productivity with recreation. We tend to compartmentalize and put work in one box and fun in another; when, with imagination, we can have the best of both worlds.

I hope these ideas will inspire you to find new ways to create a more joyful workplace.  

Best holiday wishes from our team at .orgSource to you and your colleagues, family, and friends. We never cease being grateful for the joy that participating in the association community brings to our work.  

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