A Case for a Culture of Joy at Work
When was the last time you high-fived someone at work? Or burst into song on your way to lunch?
Those questions caught my eye on LinkedIn recently, part of a post about creating a culture of joy in the workplace.
Credit unions do noble work, but like every other workplace in the U.S., most struggle to maintain a positive work environment. Repetitive processing work just isn't very stimulating. Front-line employees hear complaints all day long, especially those in the call center. Even the folks in marketing, who are assumed to spend their day playing with pretty colors, struggle to find yet another creative way to sell car loans.
And don't even ask the folks tasked with compliance to rate their workplace joy.
According to Forbes and a study by Accenture, the top four reasons people leave their job are:
- Lack of recognition (43%);
- Negative internal politics (35%);
- Don't like their boss (31%); and,
- Don't feel empowered (31%)
Now imagine how you could combat those four reasons good talent leaves your organization with more joy in the workplace. Recognizing the efforts of others usually involves fun and brings joy. The fastest way to stop negative office politics is to kill them with kindness. And happy bosses who love their jobs are difficult to dislike, and find it much easier to empower others.
So how do you incorporate more joy into your shop? Start with the man or woman in the mirror and become a joyful leader. Here are some tips:
Resist the urge to check your email first thing in the morning. At least take the time for a short walk, a good breakfast or some snuggle time with the kiddos first. Starting the day off on a positive note before facing the emergency du jour will make it easier to stay positive.
When I’m feeling down, I like to start the day by listing five things for which I’m thankful. It's human nature to compare ourselves to those more fortunate, and that can be a great motivator, but comparing yourself to those less fortunate is also important. Simply having a job in today's economy is a good way to start your list. Did you eat breakfast this morning? One in eight people on this planet didn't, and they probably won't have lunch, either. That bologna sandwich in the break room doesn't seem so bad now, does it? Writing your list on a post-it note and sticking to your monitor at work will foster gratitude.
Listen to uplifting music or podcasts during your morning commute. Avoid the news or radio shows full of negativity and snarky put-downs. If you have access to public transportation, give it a try. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to start your day off on a positive note if you don't arrive at work stressed out from a white- knuckle freeway commute.
Take advantage of your EAP benefit. Hopefully, that wasn't cut from your credit union's compensation package during the financial crisis. Even if you don't have free access to therapy sessions, put effort into resolving emotional issues and strained relationships at home.
Live a healthier lifestyle. I remember for a few glorious months about 15 years ago, I successfully eliminated from my diet processed food, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and everything else that you’d think would bring joy. The results were stunning. I was so happy every day, all day long, without even trying, my co-workers nicknamed me “Up with People.” The human body is not a flux capacitor that runs on garbage. Junk in, junk out.
Put time and resources toward fun at work. When I have lunch with a co-worker or chit chat by the water cooler, I feel guilty I’m not earning my paycheck. But my employees need more than coaching and accountability.
What are some of the ways your credit union has developed and maintained a culture of joy? I recall one employee training day when my credit union included a yoga session and free shoulder massages on the agenda. Other credit unions have held office Olympics competitions, which include a parade of departments and competitive events like trashcan basketball, office chair soccer and track and field events like obsolete keyboard discus.
The possibilities are endless. So I challenge you to go forth, and spread joy in your credit union. And please share your good ideas with us and others.