Joy at Work

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Joy can be described as fun plus purpose. During these times of stress and pressure, it’s easy to overlook the need for joy. But in these stressful times, joy is needed more than ever. People intrinsically seek joy and joy helps people connect with each other more powerfully than almost any other human experience.

Keeping staff engaged and motivated can seem like an endless task. Just when you think you have your team on track, something goes off the rails! Providing experiences of joy not only promotes learning but also builds resilience.

If Educators become disengaged, you run the risk of losing your best staff.  Great services use joy to provide Educators with a sense of purpose, an opportunity to learn and grow, and to celebrate strengths.

When these experiences are used repeatedly, they create a stronger sense of personal interconnection, shared purpose, and heartfelt pride across the service.

Below we’ve listed 10 experiences that will promote joy in your service. They provide both purpose and fun.


Backyard Blitz

Break your staff up into teams. Each team gets a $50 budget to spend at Bunnings. The week-long challenge …to create the best indoor learning environment based on sustainability! The winning team gets to choose a visit from either a juice truck, ice cream truck or coffee cart to the centre. Everyone shares in the prize.


Check your skills week

Identify some key Educator competencies and create a week of challenges!

Idea 1. Wrap a pen in a piece of paper with ‘syringe’ written on it. Leave it in the outdoor area and see how well your educators do their backyard checks!

Idea 2. Create a fake emergency and see how your team reacts.

Idea 3. Call the service pretending to be a parent. See how much confidential information educators give your dubious concerned parent over the phone.

Idea 4. Check out their first aid skills by writing symptoms on a doll and placing it in the babies’ room.

Idea 5. Throw a plastic snake in the backyard. See if your Educators know what to do!

The week is about celebrating success; prizes, vouchers, and rewards, all add to the fun.


Eye spy quality interactions

Grab a Go-Pro or digital camera and set it to take images of the outdoor area every 30 seconds. Print the images or bring them up on a screen and get educators to review the images and discuss where they see quality interactions or missed opportunities. Create an amazing discussion about how you can create quality interactions in the outdoor area.


Nappy Changing Olympics

Need to review your nappy changing procedure? Create nappy changing ‘events’ with dolls and challenge each educator to enter. Ideas include the one-handed nappy change, the time-trial nappy change, most interactive nappy change or blind-folded nappy change. What alternatives can you think of? Use the experience to discuss and review the nappy changing procedure.


Gratitude week

At the beginning of the week, everyone is allocated a member of staff. Each staff member is tasked with doing something nice for that person during the week whilst remaining anonymous. Flowers, hugs, thank-you notes, the possibilities are endless! Devious types might want to throw in red herrings by doing something overtly nice to someone who isn’t their chosen beneficiary.


Family Matters

Do you want Educators to create strong relationships with parents? Start by helping them remember the parents’ names.  Give them a week to remember the names and interests of the parents. Now it’s time to hold your quiz night.  You can split the service into room groups. Randomly select a child’s name from each room. If the Educator can identify parent, one’s name, they receive a prize from prize level one. If they can name both parents, they receive a prize from level two. If they can correctly identify both parents and the interest listed, they receive a prize from level three. There will be laughing, joking, cheating and usually, throwing of food. It’s all part of the learning process.


House Swap

This is a great experience for cross-skilling educators and celebrating strengths. In this experience, you allocate an educator to another room. They spend the day in that room and their only task is to list 10 amazing things they’ve observed during the day. They present the list to the room Educators at the conclusion of the day. PS. This is a great way of building inter-room relationships.


Sustainability Mystery Box

Everyone loves a competition! Deliver the same sustainable resources to each room. They have 2 weeks to build the most interactive, age appropriate, learning experience with the children, using exclusively, the resources provided.  The competition can be judged by your sustainability committee and the winning team can win a voucher for their room.


Allergy Celebrity Head

Allergies can be serious, but the learning process doesn’t have to be. In this experience, an educator has a child’s name tacked above their head. Asking only allergy related questions to the team, the educator must guess which child they have been assigned.



Take your documentation to the next level. Film an interaction between a group of children. Place your Educators in inter-room teams, email the recording to each group. Have each team discuss, investigate, and document the learning that has taken place in the video. In a staff meeting, you might like to have each team present their findings.


Bonus experience – Adopt me

This experience helps educators build strong relationships with children from other rooms. Each Educator is allocated a child from another room. They have a month to get to know that child. Needs, interests, likes, and dislikes. After a month they must report back to the Educators from that room. Talking about the information they’ve ascertained and without using the child’s name, the Educators from that room must guess which child has been the subject of the study.


Fill your service with joy and the rest will take care of itself.