Joy in work

Burnout for staff working in the NHS is well-documented and feels like it has never been worse.  We also know that staff turnover rates are increasing, in part because of this burnout, and this leads to increasing risk of accidents and patient safety incidents.

The ‘Be the Change’ team are big fans of this white paper from our friends at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) on the topic of joy in work – ‘IHI Framework for Improving Joy in Work’.   The paper describes how ‘the same issues that drive burnout also diminish joy in work for the healthcare workforce.’


We recommend taking a few minutes to read the paper to find out more about joy in work and how we can create the conditions for it to thrive.

The IHI team describe how joy in work is more that the absence of burnout.  But it is also about more than just finding some ways to inject some fun and creativity into our daily work.  Staff who experience joy in work will also feel psychologically safe – which is vital for ensuring patient safety.

The paper also goes on to describe so of the steps leadership teams can take to improve joy in work.  There are some simple steps that can be taken to create a positive work environment, which is so important to maintaining commitment to delivering “high-quality care to patients, even in stressful times.”

We have seen lots of examples of teams who have found ways to create joy in work at ASPH.  Although all teams are different, there are some common themes and staff who experience joy in work are usually staff who:

  • Genuinely feel pride in their work
  • Have some autonomy and input into how their work is done
  • Are able to build teamwork and camaraderie with others
  • Know they are being treated in a fair and equitable way
  • Are thanked for their hard work

We also believe that teams who are supported to pursue continuous quality improvement; and are able to make small tests of change to benefit patient safety and patient experience – are also more likely to experience joy in work.

The IHI paper sets the challenge to healthcare leaders “to understand what factors are diminishing joy in work, nurture their workforce, and address the issues that drive burnout and sap joy in work.”

We would be really interested in what you think.  What do you think of the whitepaper and what more could we be doing to create joy in work?

Please let us know what you think in the comments section below.


Mark – @MarkH_Work

2 thoughts on “Joy in work

  1. Ideology is great. Management should treat senior doctors with respect. There is no joy in relentless hard work.

  2. This is so important and relevant today – when I first qualified we had fun, Christmas shows by the surgeons, we laughed, played games and fun was allowed. This got lost recently but we have, with events like PJ parties, shown that joy is okay, allowed and really changes a day. Lets hope this is just the beginning

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