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Posted 04/30/24

WorkJoy isn’t frivolous

There’s a niggly little something (or a big blimmin everything) missing from your working life. 

A colleague who seems weirdly joyful shared this and you can’t help but be curious…

You heard a podcast or scrolled onto a post that made you feel just a teensy bit…hopeful? 

Whatever brought you here, welcome to this in-depth guide to the absolutely non-frivolous nature of WorkJoy. I’m Beth Stallwood – coach, consultant, speaker, podcast host, author and creator of all things WorkJoy – and I’ll be walking you step-by-joyful-step through some ideas, exercises and inspiration that’ll help reveal WorkJoy as the serious (but also seriously AWESOME) business it is. Because…well, you deserve WorkJoy in your life, you can make it happen, and I’m here to help you.  

How to use this guide

I’ve packed A LOT in here (including some freebies). You can get a pot of tea on the go, get comfy and read it from start to finish (and maybe even the next as well>). Or use the links below to dip in and out. 

Let’s get started shall we?

Contents:

Unhappy at work? You’re not alone.
What in the world is WorkJoy?
WorkJoy isn’t toxic positivity
Calculator: Work out your WorkJoy level out of 10 
Three ways to boost your WorkJoy today
Next steps: Choose your own WorkJoy journey
Spread the WorkJoy
A bit about me

UNHAPPY AT WORK? YOU’RE NOT ALONE.

28 million people. 

  • That’s the population of Venezuela (and Shanghai!) 
  • It’s everyone who watched Queen Elizabeth’s funeral 
  • And it’s the number of people in the UK who are unhappy at work 

Yep, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 report, 90% of workers in the UK are unhappy at work. As well as being, oh, ALMOST EVERYONE, that shocking figure places us 33 out of 38 peer countries. 

But wait, there’s more! An increasing number of people believe now isn’t a good time to move jobs, so not only are these people gloomy, they’re terminally gloomy.  

Did you know that during their career the average person:

– Spends 35%1 of their total waking hours working
– Which averages out at just over 13 years in total2
– Or the equivalent of 90,0003 hours on the job

…That’s a lot of time to waste on misery, right? 

I can’t help wondering how many of these people would believe me if I told them that they could be happier at work. I wonder how many simply reckon that feeling anything from a bit meh to downright crappy at work is just a given. 

And what about you? Do you believe in WorkJoy? Or do you think it’s fluffy, floopy, frivolous? Something for people whose offices have a ping pong table and a sparkling water tap, or who work with baby animals? 

Let me explain why WorkJoy isn’t any of those things. But first, let’s recap what WorkJoy actually is. 

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WORKJOY?

WorkJoy is the warm or happy feeling you get about your work, when working or at your workplace. It’s something you feel on the inside that shows on the outside, too. That warm feeling translates to a real smile, a positive tone in your voice and a little skip in your step. It stems from a hopeful place where you feel energised. 

More importantly, WorkJoy builds your courage and makes you feel able to take on work-related challenges, which can have a very real impact on your career. WorkJoy also has a way of radiating into your actual life as well. Now does that sound frivolous to you? Thought not. 

Now you understand what WorkJoy is, and (I hope), why it’s worth pursuing. Before we move on, let’s look at what WorkJoy isn’t. 

WORKJOY ISN’T TOXIC POSITIVITY

WorkJoy isn’t about being happy all the time, plastering a fake smile on your face or never feeling frustrated. That’s called ‘toxic positivity’. There will be times when you feel rubbish. Part of creating a better working life for yourself is accepting that fact and working through the emotion – not trying to circumnavigate it. 

Here’s a little extract from my Looking After Your Mental Health conversation with expert Melissa Doman on the WorkJoy Jam podcast: 

‘If we think about achieving work joy within the context of mental health at work, there are so many natural emotions that we have that we can feel as human beings naturally for a reason that includes positive emotions, neutral emotions, and really uncomfortable ones…There are dozens of them. Dozens… So I think that to have WorkJoy within the mental health context is really just embracing those emotions and working through them naturally so you can get to a place of joy more easily.’

You can listen to the full episode here:  https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/workjoyjam/episodes/Ep-7-Melissa-Doman–Looking-After-Your-Mental-Health-epl4an/a-a4g0tdj 
CALCULATOR: WORK OUT YOUR WORKJOY LEVEL OUT OF 10 

The WorkJoy mindset can be summarised in these 10 statements. Give each one that applies to you a mental tick, and keep count. 

1. I am personally responsible for my levels of joy

2. I stay hopeful even when things are tough

3. I cannot control everything that happens in my work life

4. I actively seek out joy in the choices I make

5. I focus my attention where it matters most

6. I accept that getting it wrong and failure are part of the process

7. I spread joy to those around me

8. I am in pursuit of progress and not perfection

9. I try new and different things

10. I gather support and help from other people

How many ticks did you get? 

10 ticks: You radiate so much WorkJoy, all I can offer you by this point is some branded merchandise (I’m working on it 😉).

7–9 ticks: Your WorkJoy mindset is in pretty healthy shape. A little fine tune might be all that’s needed to have you grinning at your desk on the daily. 

4–6 ticks: Maybe you did have WorkJoy once…but it seems to have wandered off. Either that or it’s up, down, up, down and down lower. Stay here – I can help. 

1–3 ticks: Oof. Honestly, I’m sorry things have been tough, but I do believe they can get better. In fact, I know they can. Stick around. I got you. 

FREE DOWNLOAD
Want a printable version of this WorkJoy mindset checklist, with handy columns for tracking it over time? Here you go.
THREE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR WORKJOY TODAY

I’ve spent 20 years helping individuals (and organisations, too) understand what’s getting in the way of WorkJoy. Sure, sometimes it’s the company you work for, its culture, your boss, your colleagues or the role itself – all these factors and more can be pivotal – but if you take a look at the mindset questions above once more, I hope you’ll notice one thing at least: they all start with ‘I’. Or to flip it around, with YOU. 

Remember: when it comes to WorkJoy, you are your own knight in shining armour. No one else can do this for you. 

Ultimately, creating and cultivating joy in your working life is about making choices and taking action. Whether you’re riding the WorkJoy wave or you’re still one of the millions who are struggling right now, here are three little things you can start doing today to make things better: 

Three choices you can make today to boost your WorkJoy

1. Notice the good stuff rather than focusing attention on the things that aren’t so good

2. Reset your expectations into reality rather than the fantasy of perfection

3. Identify the potential joy in any situation rather than focusing on the gloom
NEXT STEPS: CHOOSE YOUR OWN WORKJOY JOURNEY

By now you know what WorkJoy is. You get that it’s not a frivolous concept but one that, if cultivated, can have a tangible positive impact on your day-to-day experience of work, your career and your life in general, and you have a rough idea of how strong your WorkJoy mindset is. What now? 

If you…want a regular WorkJoy injection
Follow me on Linkedin> I’ll also let you know whenever there’s a WorkJoy-ful interview on the pod (or anything else you might like). 

If you…fancy an hour of personal-professional development
I’ve got a few downloads waiting for you, and I’m thinking that How to fall back in love with your job might be just the ticket for you right now. 

If you…are in the depths of chronic WorkGloom
Grab my 21-day GloomBusters audio guide>. A five-minute gloom-lifting audio will pop into your WhatsApp every day for three weeks. All you have to do is listen.

If you…really liked this post and want more
Buy a copy of my book. WorkJoy: a toolkit for a better working life, will walk you step by step through the gloom and into the joy.  

And if you…are stuck, unsure, unhappy or just fancy a chat
Book a 1-1 coaching call with me. 

“Beth has been instrumental in building my strengths and reactivating my passion, and ultimately unlocking the best version of myself.”– WorkJoy community member
SPREAD THE WORKJOY

Given 90% of everyone who works is miserable about it, I bet you know someone who could use a little WorkJoy in their juice today. Why not send them this link?


  1. K. Thompson, What percentage of your life will you spend at work? ReviseSociology. Available from: https://revisesociology.com/2016/ 08/16/percentage-life-work/ [accessed 11 March 2018] ↩︎
  2. L. Campbell, We’ve broken down your entire life into years spent doing tasks. HuffPost UK (19 October 2017). Available from: www. huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/weve-broken-down-your-entire-life- into-years-spent-doing-tasks_n_61087617e4b0999d2084fec5 [accessed 25 August 2022] ↩︎
  3. D. Buettner, Finding happiness at work. Psychology Today (21 February 2011). Available from: www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ thrive/201102/finding-happiness-work [accessed 25 August 2022] ↩︎

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