Tag Archives: joy

Happy staff, happy work ; happy work, happy staff

santaTo paraphrase Richard Branson, ‘happy staff = happy work’, and for Branson, that means that customers will also be happy and your organisation will be successful.

Motivational theory and systems theory tells us that a work (the way it is designed and the constraints placed upon people doing it) also influences whether people are satisfied with what they do. In other words, happy work creates happy  people.

Deming talked about dignity in work decades before it became a focus of attention in Human Resource departments. His philosophy was ‘centered on people and the dignity of work. He believed that people should have joy in their work, that the system within which they work should be designed to make this possible and to enable workers to reach their full potential to contribute to the enterprise‘ and that system is management’s responsibility (Tortorella, 1995).

So for happy also read ‘joyful‘. Quite an expectation! But consider this: whilst a happy person is satisfied, a joyful person brings renewed energy and vigour into their activities, interests and relationships – exactly what we need in a high performing team. And a joyful person can be as quiet and dignified as they wish, or as outwardly enthusiastic as they wish, but their joy will rub off positively onto the people around them.

It is motivation…for free.


Oswald, A.J., Proto, E. and Sgroi, D. (2014) Happiness and Productivity. http://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/35451/1/522164196.pdf

Nazarali, R. (2014) Happy People are more Productive. http://ridiculouslyefficient.com/happy-people-are-more-productive/

Raymundo, O. (2014) Richard Branson: Companies Should Put Employees First. Inc.com, OCT 28, 2014. http://www.inc.com/oscar-raymundo/richard-branson-companies-should-put-employees-first.html

Seddon, J. (2003). Freedom from Command and Control. Buckingham: Vanguard Press.

Tortorella, M.J.  (1995) The Three Careers of W. Edwards Deming. Siam News https://www.deming.org/content/three-careers-w-edwards-deming


Joy in work: avoiding the Olympic hangover

As we reflect on the joy of the Olympics and Paralympics of London 2012 we are faced with the potential of post-summer blues. How do we make sure that our return to the familiar  work routine is not accompanied by feeling flat?

Whilst trawling through some old reading materials I stumbled across an often overlooked principle of management:  ‘joy in work’, originally discussed by W Edwards Deming (1993).

When we think of work, what is ‘joy’ or indeed ‘happiness’, or ‘fulfilment’ or ‘success’?  The topic of joy has been revisited by psychologists and practitioners alike (e.g. Bakke, 2005; Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) and our understanding of well-being, motivation and performance at work is now increasingly informed by both neuroscience and psychology.

Csikszentmihalyi suggests that in seeking joy ‘only direct control of experience, the ability to derive moment-by-moment enjoyment from everything we do, can overcome obstacles to fulfillment’.’ In doing so we are able to get ‘in the zone‘ (or ‘flow’ as Csikszentmihalyi labels it). He argues that we should organise work into flow-producing activities and by implication, eliminate obstacles to flow. In Deming’s words, these obstacles are the ‘system conditions’ that prevent people from having influence over the results and outcomes of their work.

At work the flip-side of joy is stress (and distress). It is not a surprise to find recent research that suggests a link between stress and  a lack of control over your job. This relates to all jobs, not just ‘high powered’ executive jobs. Just this week The Lancet published one such paper (see the BBC link below).

One task in creating a true service culture is to put decision-making authority at the level of the people who do the work, so that they can respond to a variety of customer needs at the point of contact. Being able to make a difference for the people you are serving  is often cited by colleagues as a key part of enjoying work. However, to get an organisation to entrust that level of involvement and autonomy in its staff is a significant challenge…

What are we up to next week?


Further reading:

BBC NEWS, Work stress ‘raises heart risk’,http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19584526

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990) Flow: the psychology of optimal experience, Harper Perennial, New York.

Deming W.E. (1993) The New Economics, MIT CAES, Cambridge MA.