The Case for Joy in the Workplace

5 min read
Dec 25, 2018

Conventional, mercenary business practices don't prioritize employee happiness. Aaron Burnett, on the other hand, built a thriving company based on an unwavering focus on helpfulness, generosity, and joy.



A recent trend in the workplace has been to promote a sense of joy among workers and within the company. While this concept may seem difficult to grasp and implement, workplaces such as Burnett’s Wheelhouse Digital Marketing Group have been making intentional strides to create a company culture that fosters joy at all levels of the workplace. This is due to a belief that a sense of joy will lead to an exceptional work experience and work results.

Developing conditions that foster joy

Employers seeking to foster joy in the workplace should strive to invest in choices that will promote joy. These choices include:

● Creating an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable workplace that inspires and motivates workers.

● Providing employees with incentives that are unique to each employee, as opposed to taking a one-size-fits-all approach to incentivization.

● Being aware of the differing needs and desires of employees and seeking ways to accommodate them.

● Constructing a company culture that promotes emotional skills that nurture joy, such as empathy, generosity, and humility.

A key tenet of creating joyful conditions is also to ensure that managers are working to promote a sense of joy in their own lives and work. In doing so, managers will exemplify the importance of taking joy in one’s work to their team members. Managers should also be seeking to promote joy by being vigilant regarding potential employee burnout.

Employee workflows should be strictly monitored and controlled to ensure that they don’t overwork themselves (or experience burnout). This is an issue of concern in workplaces where employees are deeply engaged in their jobs. Managers play an important role in that they can help employees slow down and seek joy in the workplace.

First-time manager or just want to brush up on your leadership skills? Download the Beginner's Guide to Great Leadership for your road map to success.

Great Leadership

Hiring employees who will thrive and promote joyful culture

When seeking to create a company culture of joy, it’s important to include the pursuit of joyful people in the hiring process. Good candidates will have a sense of personal impact when it comes to the idea that they’re able to create joy within their own right. These candidates demonstrate that joy is something they personally consider. They also show that they believe they deserve joy, and that it’s something for which they want to strive. During interviews, hiring managers should be explicit when discussing the company’s culture of joy and how the prospective candidate might be able to contribute to that culture.


Aaron Burnett and Cindy Larson speak at TINYcon 2018.

Continuing to cultivate joy

Leaders who want to promote joy within the workplace should remain constantly cognizant of the fact that leadership sets the tone of the entire company culture. Because empathy, humility, and generosity create a culture of joy, leaders should aim to exemplify these traits in their dealings with workers. Other key traits include selflessness, transparency, and vulnerability.

Vulnerability is an especially important trait for leaders and workers to have as it builds trust. Encouraging workers to be vulnerable with each other creates a trusting and honest environment, which cuts down on time that’s wasted on playing company politics. Being vulnerable also helps workers to enjoy working with each other, which promotes a sense of joy in the workplace.

Another aspect to consider is making sure that each worker feels cared for by their peers – colleagues, managers, and company leadership. To foster this feeling, these workers need to allow themselves to be vulnerable and honest, both with each other and with management. This openness and honesty will allow workers to offer feedback to leadership, which will in turn allow management to demonstrate a sense of care for employees by working to meet those needs and desires.

For example, an employee may need to leave work during the day to handle a personal matter. Rather than having to lie about the nature of the matter, if he or she can share with honesty, management has an opportunity to demonstrate care by allowing the employee to leave work. This shows a sense of trust on both sides of the employment relationship and allows for the creation of a deeper sense of joy within the workplace.

Company leaders should ensure that managers advocate for joy on behalf of their team members. While budgetary concerns can be important, managers should be able to look past financial considerations when addressing employee compensation, incentives, and time off work. Different employees have different needs. For example, one employee might perform better with a smaller salary and more time off work, while another employee might prefer a higher salary and fewer vacation days.

Considering the need for critical feedback

In an ideal workplace in an ideal world, criticism would not be necessary. However, this is obviously not the case. In a work environment that promotes joy, criticism can be delivered in such a way as to continue to push for harmony among workers. This is done by providing feedback to people in a way that will make them feel both cared for and valued. While the truth should always be told, it should be done in a kind manner, regardless of how tough that truth may be. This approach can also be used when communicating with clients.

Another key is to treat criticism as a private matter. It’s important not to publicly humiliate employees. Rather, when a mistake is made, public discussions of the issue should be limited to high level solutions that don’t single out or blame any one individual.

Driving Results

Data collected by Wheelhouse demonstrates that the promotion of joy in the workplace results in a wide range of positive outcomes. Hiring managers noted extremely high levels of inbound resumes from highly qualified candidates, which in turn led to a decrease in the need for recruiting. Furthermore, these quality resumes led to higher employee retention rates.

The company also noted high levels of client retention. Doesn’t it make sense to assume a client would enjoy working with joyful, productive employees on the other end of the line? Key figures regarding the success of the company’s promotion of a culture of joy include:

● The company has had a five-year annual average growth rate of 55%.

● 90% of the company’s clients expand beyond their initial contracts.

● 94% of the company’s growth is a result of referrals from other clients.

● 88% of the company’s clientele remain with the company.

Want to know the truth behind what keeps employees engaged? Download the TINYpulse 2018 Employee Retention Report.

Employee Retention Report

Remember to promote joy

Burnett reminds us that promoting joy in the workplace helps to create a company culture that generates excitement and attracts qualified employees. This influx of high level workers will encourage the onboarding of additional clientele, in addition to the retention of current clients.

Workers who take joy in their work are also far more likely to provide high level results at a faster pace. While it may seem expensive and time consuming to create and foster a company culture of joyfulness, the move is likely to pay off in an era where the workforce is seeking a higher level of satisfaction from employment situations.

Aaron Burnett spoke at this year's TINYcon 2018. To reserve your tickets to next year's TINYcon, and make sure that you're keeping up to date with the latest in employee engagement and company culture, get your early bird tickets now!]


How Data Tells A Story About Employee Engagement

Why Robert Glazer is Fighting to End 'Two Weeks' Notice'

How to Fix a Company Culture Gone Wrong 


Describe your image

Get Email Notifications