Positive Psychology: A New Approach to the Workplace
One of the things I have observed as I have worked with thousands of people over the years is that people fall into two kinds of camps: those who are optimists and those who are pessimists. What would happen if those pessimists could learn to be positive? Actually, they can. That begs the question, why aren’t we teaching them how to be positive, especially when we KNOW from Positive Psychology research that there is a strong correlation between optimism and productivity? I believe this is an idea whose time has come for three reasons.
First, it makes good business sense. Anyone who runs a business has to make money to stay in business. What if you could increase your ROI with small changes that would boost employee positivity, thus improving productivity? This might seem a bit simplistic to some, but the research shows it is true. Let me give you an example. Think about the most negative boss you’ve had. What happened when that person interacted with others? For me, this is a man we’ll call John. He was intense – a man on a mission. He’d plow through the office with laser focus moving from meeting to meeting. He could change the mood of the staff just by walking down the hall. And guess what…this completely drained productivity! Imagine for a moment if John had the opposite effect. How would productivity been impacted? I think you get the point.
Secondly, Positive Psychology is a newer addition to the body of science (having been around since 1997) so it’s normal that it would take a while to make its way into corporations. Some of us are now taking notice and figuring out how we can apply the concepts to the workplace. I fall into that camp. In fact, I’m in the midst of developing a course that interlaces the pillars of Positive Psychology with the employee lifecycle. It’s work I am very excited about. Just imagine a workplace where everyone shows up feeling their best, thus doing their best. Productivity goes up along with employee resilience and retention. It’s a win/win.
Thirdly, I believe that employees and companies are ready. This is critical because lack of organizational readiness can derail a change before it begins. However, the perfect storm has been brewing this year and people are ready for something different. Our employees are dealing with the effects of a global pandemic and the massive call for change following the murder of George Floyd. The bottom line: our resilience is down and our frustration is up. The tools and practices of Positive Psychology are just what we need to help build people back up again. Plus, there is growing evidence that diversity, equity and inclusion improves as Positive Psychology practices are implemented.
With Positive Psychology moving into the mainstream and companies looking for ways to increase the bottom line, it seems inevitable that the science of Positive Psychology will quickly become an important part of company culture in the near future.