Given that we spend on average half of our waking hours at work, this time needs to be a positive and engaging experience.
Our emotional state and attitude directly impact our health, well-being, longevity and quality of life. Negative emotional states like anger, anxiety, depression and worry are related to poor health and unsatisfactory outcomes across life.
Applying positive psychology in an organisation increases happiness and satisfaction within the workforce, affecting and increasing performance, motivation, engagement levels, problem solving and conflict resolution. People thrive when they are happier. They experience less stress and fatigue, have more motivation, clarity and focus. They are more cooperative, team centred and inspired. When mood becomes brighter there is a renewed sense of purpose, goals are set or revisited and there is movement in the right direction.
Positive psychology is an enabling life skill that increases individual, business and collective well-being. It is informed by research and best practice and is very relevant, clearing resistance and allowing access to inner resources that would be inaccessible to individuals and an organisation.
So how do we encourage, cultivate and maintain a state of positivity and well-being in the workplace?
The foundation stone is the understanding that we all have an obligation to create a positive working environment. A work culture that reflects respect and courtesy, in which all people feel that they are safe, valued and also know what is expected.
Here are some key building blocks:
• Agreements Develop a set of agreed team behaviours or Code of Conduct that aligns with your business values.
• Safety There is nothing more damaging than toxicity in a professional environment. It stifles new ideas and inhibits collaboration. Creating a safe work environment means eliminating negative personalities and respecting every idea. Lead with honesty, integrity and vulnerability to help your employees feel safe.
• Communication Open, clear, friendly communication and transparency. Provide constructive performance management and be available to give staff feedback.
• Gratitude It is a privilege, not a right, to work together. Acknowledging how people achieve, as well as what they achieve. Giving people a vehicle to express appreciation for one another in a public forum raises the morale of the entire group, establishes a positive tone and helps people feel acknowledged and valued.
• Support Ensuring support for a culturally inclusive workplace, mental health training and strategies in the workplace and encouraging staff to find a good work-life balance.
• Respect Time is our most valuable currency. When we are not respectful of our colleagues’ time, we are contributing to a negative work environment. No one should be double handling a task or taking time away from their responsibilities to finish another’s job.
• Perspective When problems need to be sorted and emotions are running high, a small issue can seem larger than what is. By bringing perspective to the situation you can quickly lighten a very emotionally charged room. Reminding the team that what is being experienced isn’t a problem; it’s an opportunity to reflect, analyse and evaluate so that next time it is handled differently.
• Encouragement Proactively encourage your team to think positively, all the time, even when things seem to be spinning out of control or when an outcome has not been achieved. Positive thinking will eventually cultivate positive outcomes. Setting weekly, monthly and yearly positive intentions as a group will help to align your team and ensure that everyone is facing the same direction.
• Connection Don’t sacrifice the important for the urgent. It’s easy to get distracted by other tasks but the connection with your team is crucial to maintaining a positive workplace culture. As the leader, you are the cheerleader of the company or business and the glue that binds your organisation together. Without regular connection to your people, the mission, vision and energy of the business can quickly dilute and degrade your cultural fibre. It’s okay to reschedule; just don’t let important conversations get replaced by urgent demands and deadlines.
Safety, structure, dependability, clarity and meaningful work are all the ingredients that, when combined, can culminate in a solid foundation for a positive workplace.