Positive Psychology and Business
Positive Organizational Scholarship
Positive organizational scholarship (POS) is a scientific discipline in its own right that explicitly aims to implement the insights of positive psychology in the workplace. It is generally helpful to consider it as a set techniques to explore the question of how to help organizations foster well-being as well as meet their commercial or other goals.
Well-being at work
Work is enormously important in our lives, not only because it takes up about half of our waking time, or provides us with a means of existence, but also because of the psychological impact that it has. For example, satisfaction with work correlates very well with overall life satisfaction and well-being. Unemployment, on the other hand, is one of the greatest reasons for dissatisfaction with life, depression and negative affect. Many organizations place a lot of emphasis on the work satisfaction of employees, utilizing research findings to improve working conditions and enhance well-being (Henry, 2004). Practices and interventions of positive organizations include:
Enhancing variety and challenge through, for example, cell manufacturing, when groups of workers with different skills see the product from start to finish. This practice can be costly, but it decreases boredom and enhances flow and motivation.
Although most often, and despite existing knowledge, organizations cry to increase their staffs motivation through external rewards such as money (which can kill intrinsic motivation) Some organizations enhance intrinsic motivation through granting their staff free time ( e.g. 15 per cent of working time) and even small grants to work on their pet projects (which can sometimes blossom into innovations).
Many organizations recognize the dangers of low confidence and negative mindset, and offer training to challenge it. The most extreme forms, such as adventure training and other outdoor challenges, can lead to increased confidence through completing seemingly impossible tasks.
Creativity in organizations is enhanced by deliberately recruiting creative individuals and by nurturing creativity in all staff through problem-solving and other courses (with techniques such as brainstorming, brain writing, mind mapping and visualization). Also important is the organizational atmosphere that encourages following hunches and using intuitive understanding, supports innovative ideas, provides resources and facilitates networking.
Building on strengths, rather than focusing only on improving weaknesses. Strengths rhetoric also legitimates a more positive approach to staff development, providing the right environmental conditions for people to flourish (Linley & Harrington, 2005 ). According to Gallup, many strengths-based developmental interventions have led to a quantifiable impact on employee engagement (a commonly used notion in the world of positive organizational psychology) and in tum on performance, productivity, profit and employee turnover. A meta analysis of over 10’000 work units and 300’000 employees demonstrated that workplaces scoring above the median on the strengths-referenced question ‘Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best?’ have a 38 per cent greater probability of success in productivity and 44 per cent greater probability of success on customer loyalty and employee retention (Harter & Schmidt, 2002). The strengths approach is also the cornerstone of the process.
Team-building is a common type of intervention, which includes off-site ream-building exercises for new teams and personal, interpersonal and group skills training for existing teams.
Metaperspective acknowledges that everything has a positive and negative side. For example, it allows us to see both benefits and downsides of strengths and competences. Metaperspective is a mature approach to personal development, resulting in: balance, acceptance, tolerance and development of the whole person.
Csikszemmihalyi (2003) believes that our consumer culture devalues work in favor of leisure activities. Even as children we learn that work is unpleasant, and that everything unpleasant is work. With such attitudes, it is more difficult to achieve flow at work. Moreover, very few jobs nowadays have clear goals (especially goals that are the worker’s own), there is rarely adequate feedback beyond ‘Are you okay?’, skills are infrequently matched with opportunity for action (highly qualified, enthusiastic young professionals often do boring jobs for years), and there is a lack of control at every step of the performance. All the above need to be reversed for flow to occur. Also, the use of time, which usually depends on rhythms not set up by the worker, needs to be made more flexible, open to changing opportunities and internal states of the person.
Participatory working practices
Participatory working practices come in different forms, including workers having more control over the process of work, working flexible hours, doing telework or a substantial amount from home via email, etc.
Open climate, empowerment and self-organization
Open climate, empowerment and self-organization take participatory working practices to another level. Independence, equality, and trust become fundamental in the working process. Employees can challenge established routines, set their own hours, have control over expenses, decide on the share of profits, get rid of bureaucratic departments (e.g. quality control or personnel), hire their own staff, have an open accounting system, and so on. Such practices encourage innovation and flourishing, and result in commitment to the company and high levels of satisfaction and performance.
In cooperation with Corporate Wellness Asia, we combine Applied Positive Psychology, Behavior Economics and the research and science tested approach of Building a Culture of Health, to drive employee and well-being and employer satisfaction.