8 Ways to Bring Joy to Your Practice

By Gerard Johnson, M.S. May 14, 2021

Definition of joy: to experience great pleasure or delight

Take a second to read the definition of Joy. Would you describe your workday as a great pleasure or delight? Is “delightful” how your team describes their workday? Creating a joyful work environment is the key to employee retention, engagement, and exceptional performance. There is no more important task for great leaders than to create an environment that cultivates joy in the office. Here are 8 ways to bring joy to the office and drive employee engagement.

1. Ask your team what brings them joy at work

30 Virtual Meeting Memes That Every Office Employee Can Relate To - LifesizeThe first step to creating a culture of joy is simply asking your employees “what brings you joy at work?”. This simple question will open a world of possibilities for improvement if you are willing to be earnest with your team and make changes for the better. Over the years I have collected some of the most common answers to this question and built action plans designed to improve my office joy quotient.

2. Give your team space and time to succeed

Give your team freedom. It shows your staff that you trust them to do the right thing and allows their creativity to shine through. It’s hard to find joy in your workday if you live in fear that someone is always looking over your shoulder. Over the years, employees have consistently told me that they find joy in having the support needed to complete their work without someone micromanaging them. Freedom does not mean that you relinquish all oversight. Talk to your staff and communicate when a task is due when assigning it and when you plan on following up with them. Let them know that you trust them to complete the work but available to answer any questions and provide support.  I often tell my team that my job is to provide them with the brushes and the frame, but it’s their job to paint the picture.

3. Lunch with friends

245 Nurses Eating Lunch Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images -  iStockThis is so simple and can be so impactful. Design your lunch schedule to allow people to enjoy lunch together. Food and friendship can go a long way to increasing your office’s joy quotient. These moments of enjoying time together will allow people to decompress and de-stress, allowing them to hit the ground running when they clock back in.

4. Designated Meeting Entertainment

Bring joy and fun to your team meeting. Before each meeting select one person to bring a joke or a song to close out the meeting. Let's be honest. Monthly office meetings have never been associated with the words joy and delight. Why not change that this month? By ending your meeting on a positive note, some of the dread employees feel in association with meetings or huddles may dissipate. It also gives your team a positive lift after the meeting, especially when it’s the dreaded morning meeting. Show your team how to do it and be the first to belt out your favorite song to close a meeting.

5. Mentorships

Creating a culture of continuous growth for team members is another way to create a culture of joy. One of my joys in the workplace is seeing others grow and thrive. Being a part of someone else’s journey to achieve what they thought was impossible keeps me going. Trust me I am not the only one. Mentorships are a joy opportunity for the mentor and the mentee. This suggestion helps build a practice culture of continuous improvement

6. Training is a joy opportunity

There are many perils of improper training, especially in eye care. Improper training can not only cause a host of financial and patient issues, but it can also be a thief of employee joy. How can you expect someone to be joyful at work when they are confused about their responsibilities?  Can someone truly experience joy at work if they’re scared they will lose their job?  Where’s the joy in feeling inadequate as one falls behind or feels abandoned by their managers? Take the time to make sure your training programs are clear, concise, and create opportunities to ask questions. Let your new hires know that you are listening and care from the start.

7. Big Team Big Purpose

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Dr. Shalu Pal's Instagram Page Is Emblematic  of Her Jovial TeamI recently had an employee tell me that swiping her badge to clock-in in the morning was her greatest joy each day because she knows that she is making a difference in people’s lives.  What’s her job description? Doctor, maybe? No, she is my front office specialist responsible for checking patients in for their appointments.  She understands her Big Purpose. You can use quotes and stories from the previous day to highlight your big purpose during morning huddles and leverage monthly meetings to help your team on the “Why” of your practice.

8. Make sure everyone feels seen:

Let’s not forget to give personal recognition. Knowing that people see your hard work and appreciate it can make all the difference in the world. A great way to do this is to have a Recognition Week. At the end of each day, staff members write a short thank-you note to someone else in the office recognizing that person’s contributions for that day. This is done for an entire week. The trick is that each day they must write a note to someone different. For larger offices, you can stipulate that they must choose someone outside of their department or extend the event past one week. This forces everyone to look outside of their sphere of work friends to appreciate the efforts of co-workers that they may not speak to regularly.

Creating joy should be at the top of every leader's daily to-do list. A joyful work environment doesn’t mean that performance doesn’t matter and that there will not be conflict along the way. It’s not the challenges that we face that inhibit our joy but how we take them on. Joy at work comes when you have the space to communicate what makes you joyful.  Joy comes when you are trained for success and surrounded by a support system to pick you up when you fail.  Joy comes when you understand your work’s larger purpose and when you know that you are seen as an individual. Before you start using these tips in your practice, take five minutes and answer one simple question:

What brings you joy at work?

Gerard Johnson, M.S.

Gerard is a writer, trainer, and leader who has worked in healthcare since 2003. He has managed and trained teams in Optometry, Ophthalmology, and Family Medicine. Gerard currently works as a practice manager for a family practice in Atlanta, GA.

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