Joy at Work: How about a little “Arbejdsglæde”?

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

In response to a post about positivity in the workplace, a very kind reader (Casper P.) let me know that in his language, a very unique word existed (My Danish friend also confirmed this.) The word was “Arbejdsglæde” — translated into English this means “happiness at work” or “work joy”. Here is his comment:

Scandinavian countries have a single word for “Happiness at work” — Arbejdsglæde. This site posted a great video on why we need more of it:

If only we could only bring more Arbejdsglæde into our work lives on a daily basis. Arbejdsglæde is the positive feeling that develops when you simply love what you do. It stokes motivation and serves as an reliable source of energy. In turn, the work brings a keen sense of satisfaction. Of course, this is something we should all readily seek — and a bit of joy may be exactly what we need to affect the troubling lack of engagement in the workplace today. More joy at work? As a psychologist, that is something that I can certainly live with.

Here is an example of Arbejdsglæde in action — the moment the rover Curiosity lands on Mars. (More great videos at

Ultimately, joy and work should co-exist — but we have been resistant to offer ourselves permission to seek this out. In her HBR post Joy at Work: It’s Your Right, Allison Rimm describes how she has utilized a joy meter in her coaching practice. When clients would enter for a session, they would rate the level of joy (vs. hassle) they were currently feeling from their work. The underlying premise? We all should derive some measure of joy from our work.

We might encourage joy at work through the expression of gratitude, developing hope and encouraging camaraderie. But we can also grow joy, by aligning our work with our strengths — and learning to express what we really need to derive satisfaction from our work.

So, let’s bring a more joy to our workplaces — ourselves, our clients  and our colleagues.

It’s a good thing.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. She also writes for Linkedin and US News & World Report.

20 thoughts on “Joy at Work: How about a little “Arbejdsglæde”?

  1. When I left corporate America to follow my bliss folks kept asking me what I had been doing and I would reply working but energetically, working just felt off. I was having too much fun–it did not feel like work.

    One day I spent some time giving it some thought and decided to combine the words work and play to create a word that represented what I was doing. I did not like it with either an “o” or an “a” as the vowel so I tried other vowels and decided “Plerk” wounded good–both serious and fun. I define plerking as “fun work” or “productive play” or “work that is too fun to be called work.”

    I’ve been plerking ever since.


  2. it is curious and totally appropriate that the word “Arbej…” is from the scandinavian lexicon. Scandinavian countries have one of the most generous Social security provisions and is being provided by the government. So unlike in the US, less is at stake at workplace. This i think may be a factor in a more empathetic, relaxed and less cut-throat work atmosphere.


  3. It’s a nice word, and it’s not just the Scandinavians. Finnish (which is not a Scandinavian language, and nor is Finland part of Scandinavia) also has työnilo (work’s joy). I would imagine other non-isolating languages would have a similar single word: it’s more a question of whether the language joins the two nouns into one word or keeps them separate.


  4. Love this post and love the word “Arbejdsglæde” just as much. 🙂 Seems like a fun expression of something so meaningful in the workplace, but something companies really struggle to embrace and foster in an effective, meaningful way. Happiness at work is our purpose so it’s nice to have some sound research out there that can attest to the power of bringing it front and center in the workplace. Especially like your sentiment on allowing others to express genuine gratitude to others at work.


  5. @Dr MarlaGottschalk I appreciated your advice ,I know that habit don’t bring must more gain compare what effort I put in ,call it loose-loose situation .The reward is fulfill my price ,my moral archive every thing hard to face ,because that some time I feel like building the cattle in the beach all you get just some comment (lucky if you don’t hear the talk behin your back)but I see still many people do the same ,and I know they proud which it .Come to conclusion habit hart to change.I only hope if every one look at this please don’t think that person crazy because no one know what is the expect in his/her mind ,you may find out in there face (happy)when their work finish.Please give me your opinions ,not promise follow them 100% but use them as example to change the badboy inside me.


  6. I´m always impressed at how big a difference a day full of arbejdsglæde makes. I´ll be more willing to go that extra mile. Today we – the team incl. one of the Managers – worked together especially well. The Manager even took the time to give me a call and wish a nice vacation – when he returns from his it´ll be my turn, and from today and 4 weeks ahead we won´t be “on duty” at the same time. It made me feel appreciated – and I´ll take extra care to make sure that things will work out nicely on “my shift”.


  7. Shawn. Excellent point. Continue to focus on your passion – even if it is through volunteering or in the evenings. (Then prepare to leave your “day” job.)


  8. This is very very timely! I’m going to a job interview today and I will ask this to my panel of interviewers. I’m really hoping that as a recent graduate, I can get as much satisfaction in my new permanent job as I had during my internships.


  9. 100% correct ,you don’t want to work in stress ,boring or depress job .So that make only joy ,happy or interest work .Beside in order to be productive employee you have to enjoy your job ,in some case they over come the problems you facing , turn them to the hobby that you will volunteer your time or even your own money just be able continue work on those projects (Like detective try to solve mystery cases -movie-).This base on my past job .PLEASE give me idea about this kind behave in me,or any advice. I as alway welcome %

    Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2013 18:20:36 +0000 To:


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