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Should my job be bringing me joy?

You’ll spend about 90,000 hours working during your lifetime. (Pssst! If you’re curious, that number is about one quarter to one third of your life.) With all this time dedicated to work, shouldn’t it make us happy?

We don’t have a black and white answer for that timeless question (we’re not wizards) but in this article, we may be able to shine some light on the topic and help you come to your own decision. Oh, joy!

Sparking joy: Happiness’ younger brother

If you’ve read the international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or binged the new Netflix hit Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, then you’re familiar with the name Marie Kondo. As an organizing consultant with the patience of a saint, Kondo helps people not just clean their homes but tidy up their lives as well.

She is best known for her KonMari method of organization, which involves gathering all of belongings and keeping only those which “spark joy.” Kondo basically encourages people to not just throw away things, which focuses on what doesn’t fit into life, but to carefully observe your emotional reaction to an object and then gratefully let go of those things that don’t add value.

Okay, so my closet could be cleaner. But what does the KonMari method have to do with the workplace?

Personally, we love the sparking joy idea and believe that there’s a place for it in the workplace. After all, there’s plenty of room for improvement. According to Gallup, 85% of employees around the world are not engaged or actively disengaged in their work. Not exactly joyful, eh?

This amount of unhappiness doesn’t just make your life miserable, it also:

  • Costs companies roughly $7 trillion globally due to lost productivity
  • Dampens team spirit and kills any chance of a productive, fulfilling workplace culture
  • Spoils an opportunity for you to thrive and be your best self

No bueno. Even if you can’t be ecstatic about going into the office every single day, you can find joy in your work, role, and/or company in some form. Here’s what that looks like and how you can achieve it for yourself and your coworkers.

What does joy even look like at work?

Remember, the KonMari method encourages people to take stock of their belongings and carefully observe which promote positive emotions and which do not. When applied to work, sparking joy could be:

  • A feeling of “flow” while working, like losing track of time because you’re so engaged in your tasks
  • A connection to your company’s purpose/mission and a clear understanding of how your role contributes to it
  • Positive, healthy relationships with coworkers and your manager (and maybe even best friends at work!)
  • Excitement over learning new things or developing in your professional life
  • A clear path to promotion and upward mobility

Not sparking joy could look like:

  • Apathy or active disengagement about your work or role
  • Dreading going to work or completing certain tasks every day
  • A feeling of helplessness or ineffectiveness, such as feeling like you fail to help anyone or affect positive change with your work
  • No connection to your company’s purpose/mission (or even worse, your company doesn’t have a purpose or mission)
  • Poor, distrustful, lukewarm, or distant relationships with your coworkers and manager
  • No clear path to promotion
  • A lack of professional development opportunities

I’ve got a good mix of both columns. Is that wrong? Should I be more joyful?

We’re not suggesting that you should be happy 100% of the time at work. Although that would be fantastic, we understand that we can’t get everything that we want. (Though all of us at Talmundo are crossing our fingers for that new office puppy pen.)

Work is sometimes challenging and frustrating just like anything else in life. Still, that doesn’t mean your work and your team’s work can’t be joyful in some way every day. All it takes is a little bit of KonMari creativity.

Tell me your secrets. How can I spark more joy at work for me and my team members?

1. Clarify your company’s purpose or mission and tie your work to it

9 out of 10 employees would trade some of their lifetime earnings for more meaningful work. If you or your employees are part of that 90%, it’s time to go back to basics: clarifying your company’s purpose or mission. Why do you do what you do? Whom does your company benefit and how?

Once you’ve defined your company mission, use this as a compass to guide your work and align your role with what your company aims to do. For instance, Talmundo’s mission is to make every onboardee’s life better, and help businesses benefit from an engaged, committed, and happy workforce.

Our Digital Marketing Manager Maria might say that her purpose is to spread the word about Talmundo’s amazing onboarding app so that more companies can build incredible programs that help their awesome employees. She does this by creating blog articles that feature onboarding tips and best practices for HR professionals and employees. (Keep up the great work, Maria!)

Tying your personal purpose to your company mission can ensure that your work feels worthwhile and valuable. Plus, seeing how your work positively impacts others will spark some joy in you as well.

2. Bring happiness to others

Did you know that giving to others stimulates the same part of the brain that is stimulated by food and sex? Ooh la la! This means that sparking more joy in others at work may just spark more joy in you, too. Try:

  • Arranging a team lunch with coworkers
  • Going out of your way to welcome new team members
  • Lending a helping hand to an overwhelmed coworker
  • Starting an office book club, professional development group, or volunteer group
  • Mentoring a new hire or coworker with less experience

3. Set career goals

“Employees will be more effective if they can see how their individual goals fit into the big picture,” according to McKinsey & Company. That’s clinical speak for “setting and achieving goals could make you waaaayyy happier at work.”

4. Leave negative or unfulfilling situations

There’s no need to stay and suffer through a situation that saps your happiness. If you’re surrounded by toxic coworkers or in a field that isn’t fulfilling, ask to switch departments or at least cross-train with another team.

5. Ask for extra career and development opportunities

In a rut? Sometimes the simple act of learning something new is enough to reignite your joy for work. If you’ve hit a lull in your professional development, approach your manager or the training/HR team about extra development opportunities. You may be able to:

  • Purchase an online course
  • Invite a guest speaker to your company
  • Attend a conference
  • Get a mentor

What have you got to lose? At worst, you’ll hear “no.” At best, you’ll find an extra spark of joy that could transform the way you feel about work.

Find more free tips for professional development and employee engagement on our Talmundo blog, tailored to employees and managers.

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Topics: HR
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