According to Lynda Gouveia in a new KR book Rethink (edited by Natalie Cunningham) happiness and the pursuit thereof still tends to be regarded as a little ‘un-business-like’.
However, in an extract from Rethink she explains that research clearly shows: a correlation between the use of strengths and employee well-being and satisfaction; the link between positive emotions, which result from the use of strengths, and happiness; the link between happiness and organisational citizenship; the correlation between positive emotions, happiness and optimised organisational functioning; the impact of a leader’s awareness of strengths on enhanced well-being; and the correlation between the use of strengths, positive emotions, workplace happiness, flourishing and employee retention.
So what are the REAL benefits of a strengths-based positive psychology coaching approach? Here is her summary of the latest research in terms of the anticipated returns of this approach:
RETURN #1: Fredrickson’s broaden and build model has shown that positive emotions build our thought-action repertoire, not just in the short term – they build our future coping abilities, too.
Being able to cope with challenges and adversity further builds our resources and results in greater positive emotion, reflecting a positive upward spiral that enhances people’s well-being and functioning. In this way, positive emotions transform how people think and thus build the capabilities of organisational employees. Positive emotions therefore enhance interpersonal and cognitive functioning. They also reflect the satisfaction and well-being of employees and contribute to optimal individual functioning in the long term.
RETURN #2: In addition to this, positive emotions also enable the optimal functioning of organisations.
It is Fredrickson’s recommendation that managers (and manager–coaches) develop positive emotions in themselves and employees as a way of achieving growth and optimal functioning, both individually and organisationally. In turn, people who experience the most positive emotions are regarded as more effective employees, displaying enhanced levels of organisational citizenship and greater long-term success. Organisationally, these positive emotions result in enhanced connection, an improved organisational climate and more effective organisations. Managers, leaders and manager–coaches therefore have an important role to play in assisting employees to seek positive meaning in their work experiences – organisational prosperity will be the benefit.
RETURN #3: A correlation between positive emotions and job success or flourishing has been found, with happy people securing better jobs, being more satisfied with their jobs, receiving more positive feedback and performing more optimally.
Supporting this, organisations provide the space and opportunity for people to experience positive emotions and challenges, which result in a sense of flow. The contagious nature of emotions and the extent to which positive emotions are likely to encourage the execution (or observation) of positive, helpful acts or meaningful interactions results in a desire to become a better person. A cycle that transforms the organisation into a harmonious place takes place. It is therefore proposed that positive emotions assist both individuals and organisations to thrive and produce more optimally.
RETURN #4: Fredrickson’s research also shows that higher positivity ratios are correlated with flourishing.
More positive emotions are better, to a point, with the inverse being true for negative emotions. Negative emotions are important, however, when balanced appropriately with positive emotions. In other words, too much positive emotion or too much negative emotion can impact on functioning and flourishing. The upper limit ratio for positive to negative emotions of 11:1 is being questioned but the fact remains, more positive than negative emotions are better. Fredrickson notes that research into positivity ratios is in its infancy, with a great deal more research to be done.
RETURN #5: Greater positive emotion and happiness at work also results in increased job satisfaction, with greater job satisfaction also being linked to greater organisational citizenship.
In line with this, it is thought that the reason that satisfied, happy employees are more likely to be high performers is because they are less likely to show ‘job withdrawal’ – namely turnover, absenteeism and job burnout. A good workplace is required to facilitate this achievement of workplace happiness, with good workplaces defined as those that offer opportunities for personal control; jobs with a variety of tasks; supportive supervisors; respect and status; good pay and fringe benefits; clear requirements; and knowing how to meet them. This needs to be coupled with a good job fit and sufficient challenge.
RETURN #6: Happiness in the organisation, as well as leader optimism, has been associated with retaining people in organisations.
Where people are viewed as unique with their own specific needs, organisations enable people to feel good about their work achievements and enjoy the work that they do. A direct correlation has also been drawn between knowing your strengths, doing what you do best as much as possible and happiness, as indicated in this statement: “the happiest workers are those who are able to use their special strengths every day they are on the job.” The “…benefit of happy workers is that they tend to stay in the same job and are far less likely to quit and search for work elsewhere”.
It is therefore critical for organisations to have a satisfied, happy workforce, as this is likely to increase productivity and the retention of employees. In light of these proved, highly convincing findings and benefits, the question remains – why it is so difficult to persuade organisational executives to adopt an approach that has been shown to render results?
Rethink is intended for people who want to transform organisations and would like techniques and knowledge to support them in this change process. People and organisations need to challenge their thinking and look at doing things differently. We believe that people need to be able to access diverse and new approaches to ways they could work in organisations at this moment in time. The approaches explored are: Complexity Theory, Positive Psychology, Social Cognitive Neuroscience, Gestalt approach, Narrative Coaching, Social Learning and Integral Theory.
The aim of this book is to be a bridge between a practical how to book and academic rigour, so that the reader can walk away with some techniques and applications equally grounded in academic research. Case studies or practical examples are used to illustrate the theoretical concepts.
P.s. Don’t miss our upcoming Creating Positive Organisations Conference! Two-day Conference | CPD Points: 10 CEUs | Ballywoods Office Park, Bryanston | 20-21 May 2014 – click here now.