The impact of work on general wellbeing of an individual has always been a subject of occupational psychology but in recent times it has widely been explored by the positive psychology paradigm. It proposes that questions about what goes right, what gives life, what inspires and what is experienced as good, in addition to what is problematic and difficult in organizations should be addressed. Positive Organizational Psychology seeks to identify motivations, energisers, enablers, effects of the positive organizational patterns, understand how they function and why they work in the first place. These practices have the potential that leads to the development of employee strengths, fosters resilience, and brings healing and restorative power to the work environment.
“Human beings of all ages are happiest and able to deploy their talents to best advantage when they are confident that, standing behind them, there are one or more trusted persons who will come to their aid should difficulties arise” – John Bowlby. There are abundant resources, talents, abilities, and strengths within and around an organization. Too often these powerful resources are trapped within rigid processes, structures and systems. These resources, if tapped, can lead to vibrant, energized people contributing at the highest levels in thriving workplaces.
These are assets that can generate extraordinary performance, both individually and collectively. Resources like commitment, engagement, creativity, inspiration, generosity, and integrity, building authentic leadership at all levels of the organization. Those workplaces that have learned to unlock and tap into these exceptional human resources are called “Positive Organizations.”
Positive Practices at Work
For most people occupation or work is a major component of one’s sense of personal identity.Valuing employees as essential internal assets and visualising them as ever-growing and resourceful is a crucial component of a flourishing organizational landscape; positive leadership is therefore crucial in face of adversity. It has the ability to generate resilience and can even lead to post traumatic growth.
Few of the positive interventions and practices that can be adopted by organizations are as follows:
- Positive Moments: Over the course of one week, reviewing each day and capture in writing some of the great moments you’ve had at work. This could be an enjoyable cup of tea or coffee shared with a colleague while recalling a great memory, celebrating a success or win, getting to a meeting exactly on time, or receiving a compliment or positive email. At the end of the week, pick the top three moments that involved other people and share your experience with these people. Ideally, it is in person, however, it can also be done in the form of a handwritten note or an email.
- What is Going Well: Based on what one currently knows about the organization, a positive assessment is conducted. What is going well? What can the organization build on? What are its key strengths and core values? Assessing if there are positive emotions in the organization, what leads to positive emotions, how well are staff are using their character strengths, whether people are being mindful at work, how engaged they are, and so on.
3. Positive Embarrassment : Each day for one week, positively embarrassing or complimenting someone in the organisation in public. This may be a group of people at lunchtime, an email in which several people are copied in, at a meeting, during an event, or as part of any other organisational space in which people come together. An alternate expression of this intervention is to write to the families (or the loved ones) of those who work in the organisation, or are part of it, thanking them for supporting the member of the organisation and allowing him/her to play their role.
Positive people make positive organizations and it is this heliotropic nature that builds positive work places.
- Bowlby, J. (1969) Attachment and Loss Volume 1. New York: Basic Books. Reprinted
- Dutton, J. E., Quinn, R., & Pasick, R. (2002). The heart of Reuters (A) and (B). Center for Positive Organizations, University of Michigan.
- Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol. 1). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Vera, D., Samba, C., Kong, D. T., & Maldonado, T. (2020). Resilience as thriving: The role of positive leadership practices. Organizational Dynamics, 100784. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orgdyn.2020.100784
About the author: Dr. Bidita Das, presently Heads the Dept of Psychology, of the premier girl’s college of the region, the Handique Girls’ College, Guwahati. Dr. Das, a certified Positive Psychology Practitioner from School of Positive Transformation, USA, is one of the foremost positive psychology academicians of the region. An active social scientist with a decade of experience in teaching, research, and mentoring. Her core research interest lies in Positive Psychology, Positive Organizational Behavior, Psychological Capital, Spiritual Intelligence, and Well-Being. She is also actively involved in several Non-Governmental Organizations working in areas of mental health and youth, serving as an executive member of the Psychologist Association of NorthEast India and Young India (Confederation of Indian Industries) Guwahati Chapter, besides others.