Goodwill at Work

By Cheryl Stein
Monster Business Coach

As we all nervously wait for the Canadian Economic Stimulus measures to jump- start our economy back to life, life at work is starting to get a little hard. If your company hasn’t gone through a series of layoffs, most of your workforce is waiting for it to happen. If your company has already downsized, your employees probably have post- traumatic stress syndrome as they deal with the aftermath of watching their friends and colleagues get the axe. If your company is still healthy, your employees’ savings accounts are not, neither are their RRSPs. With all this gloom and doom in our present, it is time to look ahead to economic recovery and to do things today to make things positive in your work environment.

This article is dedicated to the use of Positive Psychology to create a stimulus package of goodwill for Canadian businesses.

Why does being positive at work matter?

Positive emotions have been found to, “empower individuals to open up their focus of attention, to “widen the lens” and see the big picture (Stober & Grant 2006 p. 222). In times of crisis, this is exactly what we need of people in our organizations. We need creativity and ingenuity to come up with alternative solutions and interesting ideas that we have not thought of before. Teams also function better when there is positive interaction. In a study by Losada (1999), sixty work teams were studied during strategy meetings to see how well they functioned. The teams were “divided into high, medium and low performance in terms of profitability, customer satisfaction, and performance evaluations.” (Kauffman in Stober and Grant, 2006. pg 223). The teams that were found to have the highest results were ones that had a ratio of 3:1 positive comments to negative ones. The study found that productivity decreased when there was too much negativity in group interactions but also found that there was a decrease when there was too much positivity. The idea is to create an environment where people feel comfortable to share their ideas but also make sure that those ideas are properly evaluated and questioned.

What can you do to increase happiness in your workplace?

Make work life pleasant

Come up with novel ways to make people happy and feel good about coming to work. This doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. It doesn’t have to cost you any money, but paying attention to making people feel good about the work that they do and helping people enjoy their work day can make a big difference in how you come out on the other side of this recession. Go out of your way to appreciate people. Be understanding of peoples’ needs for flexible work schedules. Create happy initiatives that make people feel like going to work is something that they want to do.

Try to create an engaging work environment

It is really important for people to enjoy the work that they are doing to feel really happy with their lives. Helping the people who work for you to enjoy their jobs is not that difficult. People need to feel connected to a sense of purpose in what they are doing. They need to feel like they can do their work in their own way. They need to feel like they are contributing something of value. They also need to feel that there is a sense of respect in the workplace. (Emery, 1993, p.113). Take the time to make sure that you are helping people in your company to connect with the work that they are doing and to feel good about it.

Connect to a higher purpose

It isn’t enough to just make a difference in your own company. Now is the time to reach out and make a difference in the world. One of the best ways to lift morale and boost the spirits of the people in your organization is to be philanthropic and to reach out and help others. This kind of action creates a sustainable sense of happiness and will make everyone in your business feel like they are doing their own bit to stimulate the economy.

Even if your business is the picture of health and this economic downturn is something that isn’t really impacting you, a little happiness will go a long way. Start thinking about adding some positive initiatives into your organization and make the happiness of your work force your own economic stimulus package.

Cheryl Stein is an Associate Certified Coach, a credential that is designated by the International Coach Federation. For more information, visit Stein Consulting and Coaching.