Earlier this month I caught up with Bruce Daisley, VP EMEA, Twitter, ahead of the launch of his new book “The Joy of Work“, which is already a No.1 Sunday Times Bestseller. Bruce is well known, not only for his role at Twitter, but also for the “Eat Sleep Work Repeat” podcast, which covers many topics around workplace culture. His recent tour has taken the call to build better a better work place to an even larger audience. The book is well researched and a worthwhile read, giving a good overview of current workplace challenges, from hurry-sickness to the smoothy delusion.

The Joy Effect

It might be another aspect of the Marie Kondo effect, but we are seeing a recent surge in interest on employee engagement and work place culture. For far too many, the work place has become dull and joyless, tiring and stressful. That is clearly in no-one’s interest. While it is perhaps more obvious in a service-based business, employee satisfaction has an impact in every business, from staff retention through to unlocking the discretionary effort that enables a business to thrive and grow. There are broader impacts on national productivity and health too.

Delight and happiness aren’t often associated with modern work, and yet they are exactly the things that most brands want to deliver to their customers. Where do business leaders think that customer delight and happiness is going to come from? Happiness, joy and delight are contagious – they spread across the organisation, they embed themselves into the products and services, and they propagate out to customers. Think about a conversation you have had recently with someone who is passionate about what they do, and passionate about their organisation. These things create a completely different dynamic.

Always Be Listening

In nearly a decade of helping businesses to measure employee satisfaction, brand and culture, some clear themes and trends have emerged from our work at SocialOptic. Firstly, great communication is essential. Not just the intentional, structured communication that happens in an organisation, but also the unintentional and unstructured communication. People hear what is not said, as much as they hear what is said. Some of the biggest “joy thefts” we have seen have come from organisations’ miscommunication, or under-communicating, while overwhelming people with email. Secondly, communication isn’t “to”, it is “with”, and it is a value, not an action  – how much are you listening? How many opportunities do you create to give people the opportunity to give frank, open feedback, in a safe, neutral space? How do you value communication in your organisation? Do you measure the effectiveness of your communications?

People are with you…

In a recent project, working with Jenni Field, Director of Redefining Communications, talking to remote workers, I was struck by how passionate people were about their jobs and the companies they work for. Even in environments where you might expect to find drudgery and disaffection, when you listened through the stories, and asked the questions, there was a genuine, almost universal, desire to create something great. Through hundreds of survey responses and dozens of face to face conversations, it was clear that people want to work well, in an an organisation that works well, and that serves its customers well. That shouldn’t be a revelation, but most modern management science seems to have lost sight of it. Your organisation’s people aren’t “resources” to be used with maximum efficiency, they are advocates, innovators, story tellers and observant learners. Given the right culture and the right tools, and an environment that enables them to be effective and resilient, they are your biggest unlocked capacity, with a huge potential return on investment.

Happiness, joy and satisfaction are often misunderstood, they need to regain their rightful place at work. A useful orientation is in Ingrid Fetell Lee‘s “Why We Pursue Happiness But Overlook Joy” – there is a short clip here from her RSA talk. What are you paying attention to? What has become contagious within your organisation? Do you have an objective view of the emotion within it? There are dozens of small changes you can make, which will transform your organisation. Start looking for the joy at work.