I’ve been spending a lot of my time recently on wellbeing. Focusing a lot of energy on my own wellbeing after two difficult years during the pandemic, but also focusing on how organizations position wellbeing today. This week, I came across a quote from noted psychologist Martin Seligman that influenced a shift in how I see wellbeing as a method for intervening with employees. He said, “If all you do is work to fix problems, to alleviate suffering, then by definition you are working to get people to zero, to neutral.”
So, then, how do we get people in the workplace above zero and truly develop an impact on wellbeing for others. In our own work at Rippleworx, and with what we read in the media, that despite workers with high engagement levels, negative symptoms of low wellbeing are rising. Our insights indicate that increases in job demands and a lack of job resources to balance those demands are driving this trend and leading many to feeling burned out.
The opportunity is to apply a simple, holistic, and robust model of wellbeing called PERMA. This model, introduced by Martin Seligman, is built on five separate pillars of wellbeing: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.
Positive emotions such as joy, hope, love, gratitude, and satisfaction are the basis of intrinsic motivation. We need to be able to recognize, appreciate, and incorporate these positive emotions into our lives to improve our attitude and strengthen our resilience.
According to Seligman, we need to increase the time we spend on all the activities or situations that involve us so much that we enter a sort of “flow” vibe, where space and time seem to stop, and we focus fully on the present moment.
Our human nature is rooted in a deep need for connection to others. Building strong and positive relationships makes us stronger and happier. It increased our sense of belonging and protection.
Committing our energies to activities that have greater meaning is a source of positive emotions and helps us overcome difficulties better. For some it is volunteering, for others it may be acquiring a new skill to achieve a goal.
Looking back and feeling satisfied when we have achieved a task, or a goal makes us feel stronger and more secure. That feeling can be even stronger when that accomplishment is work on an intrinsic goal, such as personal growth.
How can I implement this with my own teams? Here are some suggestions.
- Create a work environment that is fertile ground for positive emotions – encourage the exchange of positive feedback and appreciation between colleagues. I had a favorite boss and mentor use every team meeting interaction as a space to share appreciations of each other’s demonstration of support through the week.
- Cultivate personal talent. It is important that your employees feel free to follow their own inclinations and develop themselves to the fullest. Provide opportunities to grow their skills in line with their own career expectations and wishes.
- Share and commit – make sure your team members are always informed about what the company is up to and how their work is helping to achieve those goals. Find ways for them to feel more involved and to assign a deeper meaning to the work they do every day.
- Link values and goals. Recognize and value the potential of your employees. Develop career paths in accordance with their values and aspirations.
Through a focus on PERMA model, we can ensure the wellbeing of our employees to become more resilient and successful in overcoming future challenges with a positive attitude!