Creating Joy in a “Best Workplace”

Cindy Lopez / 2nd July 2018 / Comment / Culture


We’re honored and excited to be named one of Washington’s Best Workplaces in 2018 by Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) and 100 Best Work Companies to Work For in 2018 from Seattle Business Magazine. (This is Wheelhouse DMG’s second time making both lists of 100 companies “whose employees say are great places to work”.)

We don’t take this recognition lightly. When we think about what it means to be a “best place to work”, we think about proactively creating joy in the employee experience. Miriam-Webster defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” We like to think of joy as eliciting delight and a deep sense of satisfaction in life.

Viewing the employee experience through the lens of creating and fostering joy has transformed the way we think about benefits and the structures and processes around people. We seek to create joy for the whole person. For example, some of our benefits address the basic needs people have that are foundational for thriving. Other processes focus on higher order needs like a sense of belonging, being appreciated and recognized. We also want to create opportunities for people to identify and become their full selves.

I’d like to highlight a few of the benefits and processes Wheelhouse uses as vehicles for creating joy and how they came into being:

Celebrating Personally

When new team members begin their experience at Wheelhouse DMG, we ask them to share how they like to receive appreciation or be celebrated, as well as what some of their favorite things are. Armed with this context, we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or “wins” in ways that are unique and most meaningful to each person. Some of our team members love public affirmations and shared recognition. Others prefer a small card and the opportunity to leave early for a dinner with their partner or spouse. Wheelhouse strives to accommodate and delight team members by knowing them more deeply.

Lunch is Served

We’re conscious of team members’ dietary needs and preferences and keep a fully stocked kitchen that provides something for everyone. By removing the stress of finding lunch, team members can focus on the joy of eating together and building community. One of our team members shared recently, “This is the ONLY workplace I’ve been in where my diet hasn’t created issues. Vegan cheese in the fridge, people who don’t make a big deal about my food!? It’s awesome!”

Building Diverse, Highly-Functioning Teams

Regularly, each individual practice area (including Leadership) facilitates workshops oriented around team-building, unconscious bias and being advocates for one another. We want team members to develop the types of relationships with colleagues that allow them to be their authentic selves and feel a sense of belonging. This way, teams can focus their energies on achieving shared goals.

Measuring Joy

Like any other business or performance goal, Wheelhouse formally measures and tracks joy – because creating joy in the employee experience is one of our missions (and we love data). We use a tool called TinyPulse to do this. TinyPulse allows team members to respond in real time and anonymously to curated questions within the TinyPulse platform. Once a month, we ask people to answer the question “How happy are you at work?” on a scale from 1-10 and explain why. Other weeks, we ask questions related to various aspects of the employee experience from how they feel about their co-workers relationships to their thoughts on the direction of the company. Through TinyPulse, we’ve been able to identify places where we weren’t delivering on our goal to create joy or new opportunities for joy and then take action.

Next Steps: Spreading Joy & Sharing Our Learnings

We’re excited to continue to evolve our understanding of what it means for joy to be the predominant guide to our employee experience and to being a best place to work as we grow.

We’re so passionate about the subject, that we’re even starting to speak about it! In September, we’ll share more about our path and philosophy of creating joy at TinyCon, a conference hosted by TinyPulse in Seattle. For more information about the conference, check out the TinyCon website.


By Cindy Lopez