Last week I was in a long queue to buy an ice cream in Manhattan (New York). As I drew closer to the counter, I got to see why the queue was so long and why the people were waiting so cheerfully? Not only was the quality of ice cream really good, but the manner in which it was being served was really special. It was truly a joyful experience seeing ‘joy at work’. We read and hear so much about joy at work in books and workshops, but in this ice cream parlour, I saw it in practice in the real sense. Alongside the joyful music being played in the ice cream parlour, I found the ice cream crew breaking into a song almost every two minutes. I asked Neetu, (my grand daughter) who is a frequent visitor to the parlour. She said, “Mum every time some one puts in a dollar or two in their tip jar placed next to the cash counter the cashier says “hey guys we got a tip”. And they all sing a few lines of a song and one or two would even jig while ‘kneading’ the ice cream on a stone to mix it with other flavours and fruits as one wanted. It was truly yummy mixed with fun. For me this was ‘joy at work’. For all the customers too shared the joy of being there. The time in the queue became pretty interesting. I had never experienced such a feeling while waiting for my favourite eat and certainly not for a mouth watering ice cream. Undoubtedly, productivity and quality is a big issue today. What I have seen lately is that many companies are devising very many different strategies to incorporate ‘joy after work’. Like giving travel breaks for employees to go for retreats. Or even take groups with families for holidays. But the key is how much joy they get ‘at work’. Do they really enjoy doing their work while at their work places? They will, of course, enjoy the holidays… I gave the ice cream experience basically to highlight the concept of joy at work. And there can be umpteen ways of doing so, and each situation will suggest its own best way (s) even in somber environments…What I am provoking is that, whether we are conscious of factoring in the concept of ‘joy at work’, as workers, supervisors, team members or as leaders, which sincerely focuses on the joyful aspects at work? Be it the corporate sector or the government. Research and experience establishes that work can never be joyful unless conventional approaches in management are fully addressed. The factors which comprise the conventional approach being: unilateral decisions, need for all kinds of approvals, strong controls bordering on killing initiatives, top heavy and multi-layered management levels with almost low level of volunteerism. So has the purpose of the organisation to be addressed/change from results to missions. Hypocrisy in statements, public and private, speaking only through authorised Public Relations Officers, non-existent internal democracy and with values used only as recruiting tools has also to see a change.. Leaders are often seen to hog all the credit and the limelight while the real hard work is done by the ground level most of the time…Forget about sharing of credit, even the correspondence received from junior colleagues is rarely acknowledged. A huge gap exists in the remuneration of workers and leaders. Further, attention is more often focused only on a few leaders within organisations. Training is also limited to classrooms and information is on ‘need to know’ basis. The audits are also limited to financial functions. There are no value surveys. The corporate world is developing its methodologies for many justified reasons: Most of all for retention of valuable and competent talent. However, the focus is still ‘after work, with or without colleagues’. However, to retain the competitive edge, addressing the needs for stress free work place is becoming a necessity. But one whole segment which has really not woken up to this need is the monolith of public service sector. It enjoys so much of a security of service that the concept of ‘Joy at work’ is just not an issue. I have personally seen how much stress is purposely and needlessly added to work as a tool of deliberate harassment. It is considered that if that did not exist, there would be loss of power. It’s a show of exercise of power. Joy at work will loosen control. The choice to be made is between control and empowerment. The former is based on hierarchy and fear. The latter is born out of sharing and giving. The former requires officiousness. He latter requires communications. The former is invisible; the latter is one among the equals. The former may give instant results; the latter gives long-term sustainable performances. The former is not as much about quality but results; the latter is about results through willingness to serve, through joy at work… We make the choices. We need to remember that what we seek for ourselves, others need that too! Be it joy ‘after’ work or joy ‘at’ work.