In our decade of work in transforming Asian companies, we found that the solutions to bring joy back to work are surprisingly simple and cost-effective:
Create clarity of purpose: Leaders should explain the rationale and the value of doing things on a regular basis and at all levels.
Design teamwork: Design policies and reward systems that recognize the team that made it happen. Identify moments when departments reached out to each other to solve a problem.
Manage differences: Have people trained in mediation and regularly intervene to address frictions in a calm manner with proper facilitation.
Put relationships first: Helping new employees to get to know others when they join the company, or allowing people to share three minutes on how their week went during weekly sessions can go a long way to establishing an environment that is joyful.
Create relationship-based HR: Create a separate HR department focused on relationship management.
(1) This advice seems to be designed for large Asian companies. Most of it can be applied to startups, with caveats: Training people in mediation seems excessive, as you probably don’t want to keep anyone who needs mediation to function. And creating an HR department to foster relationships seems overly centralized, as relationships should be built within teams.
(2) Cf. Practical advice on how to raise motivation.