Well-being at Work

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about strengths. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

We’ve come a long way! Last week, we celebrated our progress, examined five powerful reminders about strengths, and reviewed the six virtue categories of the VIA (1)! Then, we built a personal tool belt of strengths. I hope your tool belt drew awareness to your strengths and made them accessible, and prepared you for action!

Understanding where your strengths are most useful can help you develop them over time. So, last week, I invited you to spend time with your tool belt each day and notice how your strengths work in constellation. Did you find any patterns? Do certain pathways to virtue complement one another? Do others tend to compete? I hope you took my invitation to really dig and pay attention to your tool belt of strengths.

I noticed an interesting constellation of strengths that I wanted to share. Forgiveness is one of my top strengths. I frequently use this pathway to temper my relationships and foster acceptance in difficult moments. It doesn’t mean that I condone all behavior, rather that I value mercy and believe everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Yet, I tend to be my own worst critic. (Anyone else?) Recently, I’ve been able to increase self-compassion through my strength of Forgiveness. By using this strength in my relationship with myself, I can temper self-criticism. 

I was in a tough spot personally last week and my personal critic was writing some terrible reviews, so I reached into my tool belt. My strength of Forgiveness helped me to release personal disappointment. Calmer and thinking more clearly, I was able to draw on my Perseverance to garner the courage to pick myself up and dust myself off. A complementary constellation! In fact, by looking at my tool belt, I found an authentic pathway to resilience.

What discoveries did you make? 

Character development is not one-size-fits-all (2). It is important to remember that the development of character strengths is a highly contextual phenomenon that aligns with personal goals, interests, values and situational factors (3). The objective is to reveal and engage your personal constellation of strengths (2). Spending time with your tool belt, will pay off in the long run. As you discover which strengths support one other and how they can be helpful in particular moments, you will become facile and readily able to draw the proper tool for the task at hand. This doesn’t mean it is easy or fool proof, but it will bring you closer to the goal of using the best combination of strengths in the right degree for a particular situation (4).

This week, I want to talk about using our strengths at work. Like it or not, most of us spend a large portion of our waking hours working. Students need to work. Families take work. Professionals go to work. Work. Work. Work.

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And on top of it, we seem to have a culture that looks forward to the weekend so much that Thursday has become Friday, Jr.!

We love Fridays!

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Mondays are dreaded. 

Well, it doesn't have to be this way.

One reason I publish this blog on Mondays is that I believe Mondays deserve a little rebranding. 

But seriously, we do spend a lot of time working, so how can we increase well-being at work?

Research supports the use of character strengths at work for positive psychological and behavioral outcomes (3, 5). In fact, the active use of character strengths is associated with increased job satisfaction (6), overall life satisfaction (7), and higher energy levels (5). Plus, happy employees are more productive (8, 9)!

That's not all! In addition to an increase in personal energy (5), engagement and proactive work behavior are robustly correlated to the use of character strengths (10). Folks who report having an opportunity to use their strengths at work are more likely to be engaged in their jobs (11). This matters. Engaged employees are more likely to take personal initiative (12) and are more motivated to learn (13). We even see an increase in performance (14). What a great way for both the employee and the employer to benefit!

I want to help you find well-being at work.

Since the use of character strengths at work can increase job satisfaction (6), life satisfaction (7), energy (5), engagement (11), proactive work behavior (10), productivity (8, 9) and performance (14), I want to invite you to take your tool belt to work this week! Keep your list of personally identified strengths handy and find three ways you can engage your strengths at work over the next week. Try to engage them on tasks that come up frequently. Then, take notice. Do you sense any of the benefits mentioned above as you engage your strengths at work?

I hope you enjoy your week at work, and I look forward to next Monday as we continue along the pathway to well-being and dive a bit deeper into our strengths! 

As always, gratitude for the expertise of the following resources.

References

1. Peterson C, Seligman M. Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol 1). Oxford University Press; 2004.

2. Linkins M, Niemiec R, Gillham J, Mayerson D. Through the lens of strength: A framework for educating the heart. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2015; 10(1), 64-68.

3. Biswas-Diener R, Kashdan T, Minhas G. A dynamic approach to psychological strength development and intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2011; 6(2), 106-118.

4. Niemiec, R. VIA Character Strengths: Research and Practice (The First 10 Years). Well-Being and Cultures: Perspectives from Positive Psychology. 2013; 11-29. 

5. Linley P, Nielsen K, Gillett R, Biswas-Diener R. Using signature strengths in pursuit of goals: Effects on goal progress, need satisfaction, and well-being, and implications for coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review. 2010; 5(1), 6-15.

6. Littman-Ovadia H, Davidovitch N. Effects of congruence and character-strength deployment on work adjustment and well-being. International Journal of Business and Social Science. 2010; 1(3), 138-146.

7. Seligman M, Steen T, Park N, Peterson C. Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist. 2005; 60(5), 410-421. 

8. Clifton D, Harter J. Investing in strengths. In K. Cameron, J. E. Dutton, & R. Quinn (Eds.), Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline (pp. 111-121). San Francisco, CA: Barrett-Koehler; 2003.

9. Zelenski J, Murphy S, Jenkins D. The happy-productive worker thesis revisited. Journal of Happiness Studies. 2008; 9(4), 521-537.

10. Gander F, Proyer R, Ruch W, Wyss T. Strength-based positive interventions: further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being and alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies. 2012; 1-19.

11. Rath, T. Strengths finder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press; 2007.

12. Demerouti E, Bakker A, De Jonge J, Janssen P, Schaufeli W. Burnout and engagement at work as a function of demands and control. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health. 2001; 279-286.

13. Sonnentag S. Recovery, work engagement, and proactive behavior: a new look at the interface between nonwork and work. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2003; 88(3), 518.

14. Dubreuil P, Forest J, Courcy F. From strengths use to work performance: The role of harmonious passion, subjective vitality, and concentration. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2014; 9(4), 335-349.