Guest post by Tim Sharp
As an Adjunct Professor (Positive Psychology) at the UTS Business School, not to mention the Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute (sometimes even going by the name of Dr. Happy), I’m frequently invited to present at conferences and consult to organisations to talk about happiness at work.
To be perfectly frank, most people love the idea; but at the same time there’s a core group of “serious” executives who sit back and think (or even say) something like…
“…That’s all well and good but we’re here to be productive and profitable.”
This is how I respond to them.
A positive culture is not just about having fun; having fun can be extremely useful, especially when an individual or team is aiming to be creative and innovative, but when understood fully, a positive culture includes much, much more.
According to research out of the Ross Business School’s Centre for Positive Organisational Scholarship, a positive workplace can be considered as one with most or all of the following:
A positive culture: including optimism, empowered employees, gratitude and fun.
Positive relationships: including those that recognise and utilise all strengths, show compassion and understanding, and have trust and respect.
Widespread use of positive communications: that are supportive, constructive and encouraging and in which the majority of employees gain meaning and purpose from what they do each and every day.
There are few if any who do not believe this all sounds good in theory, but what’s just as important to understand is that this goes beyond being “nice”.
Organisations and businesses that get this right outperform comparable businesses in every possible way. Positive organisations are more successful at attracting the best people, keeping the best people and getting the most out of their best people. They enjoy, therefore, lower levels of turnover and absenteeism, as well as higher levels of performance and productivity. Ultimately, this goes directly to the bottom line.
How then, I hear you ask, can you achieve this in your team or organisation?
Well, quite simply by finding appropriate ways to integrate the following principles and strategies into your workplace:
- Allow and encourage people to play and have fun (and understand that this does not mean they’ll get less done but rather, when utilised appropriately, will more likely lead to them getting more done).
- Encourage the expression of gratitude and appreciation.
- Focus on what people do well, at least as much if not more than you focus on what they don’t do well.
- Until proven otherwise, believe the best in and expect the best from others.
- Catch people when they’re doing things right.
- Celebrate and savour wins and successes – what you do when things go right is just as important as what you do when things go wrong.
- Encourage people to create their own “tribes” and communities within the organisation and to connect with communities outside the organisation.
There are so many ways to build a positive organisational culture and these are just a few examples; but what’s most important is that you work towards finding what’s right for you.
As I hope I’ve proven above, this is not just a nice thing to do, it’s also the right thing to do for all staff and for the organisation as a whole.
Prof. Sharp is CHO of The Happiness Institute and Founder & Principal of Positive Leadership Development (an Executive Coaching and Consulting practice). He works primarily with senior executives and organisations to enhance happiness, satisfaction and engagement in the workplace. For more information visit www.thehappinessinstitute.com/ or www.drhappy.com.au.You can also follow Dr. Sharp on Twitter via @drhappy.