Clap Along if You Feel Like Happiness is the Truth

Happy-EEs-WEBStudies indicate that those with a positive mental attitude or PMA as its often referred to, has a well, positive impact on people’s lives in general. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune
“Thousands of articles in virtually all popular, medical, health and news journals tout the benefits of PMA on longevity and many other positive aspects of aging,”
says Dr. Peter Norvid, a geriatric specialist treating patients at Adventist Hinsdale and La Grange Memorial hospitals and medical director for Heartland Hospice. “Optimistic people live longer, have closer personal relationships and are able to deal with the negative things that happen to them in a way that allows them to continue to be able to be there for others so that others can help them.”

But can this same PMA have a positive effect in the workplace?

According to an article in HR Magazine by Aileen Wilkins, that would be affirmative – to a point. In other words, while a toxic culture breeds “unhealthy internal politics and dysfunction”, a more positive culture can lead the way for people to “focus on growth, minimize internal politics, and constructively support and challenge each to do better.” Further, employees are more engaged. Ms. Wilkins is not claiming that people will go around singing “The Happy Song” or even be joyous, but simply that people will work together better and be more productive.

Apparently this is true as according to another study. A more positive culture leads to better retention, discourages burnout, and incivility (Spence Laschinger, Wong, Cummins, & Grau, 2014). According to a study by French and Quigly Holden (2012), a positive culture that builds hope, resiliency, and optimism can better face bad news. This, in turn, can lead to a quicker recovery.

Further, a second study in the manufacturing sector suggests that managers who provide good equipment maintenance, a high level of safety, and handle grievances properly can create a positive working environment, (Frempong, Ahemkor, & Asamoah, 2013). The article by        Ms. Wilkins supports the idea that positivity must originate from leadership. Now that we know that a positive culture can play an important role in the health of an organization, how can you make it happen for your organization?

Obviously, as referenced above, leadership must lead the way as in so many other aspects of building a successful and profitable business. While this is true, employees have responsibilities in this effort as well.

  1. Everyone should treat everyone else with respect, be honest, and value one another’s contributions.
  2. Organizations should think about how they want employees to speak about their company or brand, both while they are working at the organization as well as when they are no longer there. Employees too, need to realize they are their own product and consider how they want others to speak of them. Treating others in a condescending manner, bullying, or being disrespectful leave lasting imprints that could very well wind up online in some social media post or in a reference call. Not good.
  3. To illustrate the power of positive communication, a 2010 study illustrates that leaders who hear as little as a minute of compassionate monologue will then have a more positive influence on workplace behaviors. It would stand to reason, that this would be true for everyone in an organization.
  4. Employees need to feel they’ve been heard and understood. An employee feedback system fills both of these quite nicely. Thank you very much.
  5. Always give credit where credit is due.
  6. Create collaborative opportunities for employees. One department can collaborate with another on projects. Individual team members can offer “consulting” on projects or change initiatives. This helps build appreciation and understanding between teams and departments.
  7. Traditions are important to families. The same is true in organiztions. Be sure to mark special events such as milestones, achievements for both the organization and your people. It’s also important to make these milestones and achievements a part of your onboarding process
  8. Begin at the beginning by hiring people with a positive attitude. While you are not looking for every hire to be a Pollyanna, optimistic people are more successful and bounce back quicker from failure.
  9. Develop a culture of accountability. Finger pointing as a culture can deflate morale, reduce productivity, and ruin your brand.
  10. Be nice.

“…and that’s the truth. tthhhhhhhhpp,” Edith Ann by Lily Tomlin


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