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The Power of Positive Psychology: 6 Tips for Employers to Boost Employee Morale

Charlotte Housden
October 1, 2023

You’ll know from our recent article on stress reduction in the workplace that it’s National Stress Month. This time, I’m giving you tips on how to cultivate positivity in your workplace - it’s a great way to boost morale and productivity across your employees.

So, with that in mind, HR leaders and people managers can use this article to discover the concept of “Positive Psychology” and build a strategy to help your team focus on their strengths, reduce stress, and reach their full potential.

What is “Positive Psychology”?

“The aim of Positive Psychology is to catalyse a change in psychology from a pre-occupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life” - Martin Seligman (2011)

Positive psychology asks us to acknowledge the thoughts, feelings and behaviours we have with a focus on our strengths as opposed to our weaknesses. 

Within this approach, there is often a particular emphasis on tuning in to the “main character” strengths we hold like optimism, life satisfaction, well-being, compassion and confidence. 

The pros of positivity

One of the key aims of Positive Psychology is to support individuals and organisations to build happy and meaningful lives. This makes it a very effective approach for you to adopt within your workplace - because it promotes individuals and the whole organisation to flourish at their full potential. Implementing Positive Psychology in the workplace can cultivate a healthy and productive working environment. 

Research has found that workplaces that adopt this approach can improve desirable work outcomes including improving employee well-being, engagement and trust among colleagues and managers (Donaldson et al, 2019). Positive psychology interventions have also been shown to decrease stress in the workplace environment (Santos et al, 2021). 

Applying Positive Psychology in the workplace

Positive psychology interventions (PPIs) are activities that can be implemented within the workplace that adopt Positive Psychology in their approach. 

According to the research, PPIs within the workplace have two intended outcomes

  1. Enhance happiness at work through positive thoughts and emotions
  2. Sustain long-term positive emotions

Numerous studies in recent years have supported their efficacy in increasing work engagement, improving job performance and reducing job stress (Donaldson et al, 2019). 

There are a series of easy-to-implement PPIs organisations can use to roll out a positive culture in the workplace. We’ve put together a list of some go-to ideas to help get you kick-started!

  1. One-minute meditations

Mindfulness involves being grounded in the present moment, helping us become aware of our current thoughts and feelings without judgement. Mindfulness has been a widely accepted practice to promote happiness and help us self-regulate our emotions – particularly important in times of stress during busy work days. 

Mindfulness is widely accepted as a key component of a Positive Psychology approach. It can come in a variety of ways but a simple way to incorporate this into the workday could include encouraging minute meditations every few hours at work. Tuning in to sensory awareness for just 60 seconds is a great way to bring us back to the present moment. Paying close attention to what we can see, touch, feel, smell and hear. 

  1. Gratitude exercises
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” - Melody Beattie 

Practising gratitude is perhaps one of the most effective Positive Psychology interventions. It allows us to appreciate what we already have, and what we also have to look forward to. Keeping a note of the things we are grateful for in our own life can be effective, in addition to sharing thanks with others. 

Creating more opportunities to share thanks can foster kindness and gratitude in the workplace. Have you thought about a weekly thanks email or even a dedicated Slack channel in your workplace? 

When voicing gratitude, it can be helpful to avoid “me” statements in your praise: “It makes me pleased when...”
Instead, phrases focusing on the recipient can help that person feel understood and appreciated: “You worked really hard on…”
  1. Kindness boosters

There are many ways to make kindness a key part of your workplace culture. Studies support that happiness and kindness are strongly interlinked, making them a key component of a Positive Psychology approach (Aknin et al, 2012). Prosocial spending is the act of purchasing something as a gesture of goodwill, and it is one act of kindness that can go a really long way for your employees. 

Within the workplace this might look like an allocated budget for social/team days, coffee and cake days, providing sponsorship for charity work, or additional leave for occasions like birthdays and Christmas. Goodwill gestures like these don’t have to be huge, but they can go a really long way to helping build a happy team. 

  1. Innovation time

Innovation time is a popular workplace PPI. It’s protected time that allows your employees the space and freedom to brainstorm, create ideas or plan projects freely, without feeling constrained to the pressure of targets or their usual workload. Innovation time should avoid the usual day-to-day work tasks and shouldn’t include any pressing tasks or deadlines. This time encourages creativity and autonomy, which are important drivers for motivation and confidence at work. 

  1. Visualisation

One effective PPI is the “Imagine your best self” visualisation technique. Helping your employees to imagine their best selves and how they would feel in this scenario can be hugely impactful to build confidence and motivation in their workplace targets and goals. This could be as part of a group activity or within 1-1 meetings. Encouraging visualisation through questions such as:

  • “Where do you imagine yourself as part of this company in X year's time?”
  • “What does your ideal career scenario look like to you?”
  • “How would you feel when you reach that full potential?”

The bottom line

Positive Psychology is a gentle reminder that by focusing on our strengths we can create our best selves! Some simple PPI strategies can really make a difference to you and your team and build a happier place to work all round.

At Surgery Hero, Positive Psychology has a natural place in our everyday coaching sessions. Positive psychology suggests that we have a certain level of control over our own mental state and happiness. We can use this approach with members to reframe the way we think about lifestyle change, helping our members understand they are in the driving seat for their own wellbeing. Using a Positive Psychology approach in our coaching sessions helps improve confidence and self esteem in our members, reinforcing that they can achieve their health goals and get back to their normal lives and work quickly post surgery.

Find out more about what Surgery Hero can do for your organisation's absenteeism and presenteeism metrics here.

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