How Positive Emotions Can Improve the Workplace
Positive emotions have been shown to have a positive impact on relationships (romantic, friends, and family), therapy and counseling outcomes, grades and academic achievements, and personal development (Linley, Joseph, Maltby, Harrington, & Wood, 2009); now we can add one more domain to this list: the workplace.
As much as we may try to separate them, our emotions and personal life do have an impact on our work. Luckily, this can work in positive as well as negative ways. Positive emotions have led to enhancements and improvements in work life, physical and mental health, social relationships, community involvement, and income (Danner, Snowdon, & Friesen, 2001; Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005), all of which are either directly or indirectly related to work.
Enhancing Employee Engagement
A recent study by Goswami, Nair, Beehr, and Grossenbacher (2016) cemented the relationship between positive emotions and employee engagement—as well as showing a link between leaders’ use of humor and employee engagement!
Further, positive emotions encouraged organizational citizenship behavior (an employee’s voluntary commitment to non-obligatory or non-mandatory tasks that benefit his or her organization) as well as increasing work engagement; additionally, they had a double positive impact by decreasing negative attitudes and behaviors that are not in line with organizational values (Avey, Wernsing, & Luthans, 2008).
Improving Job Satisfaction
Positive emotions have been found to result in increased self-efficacy, higher job satisfaction, and better mental health in general (Schutte, 2014). They have even been shown to connect to higher job satisfaction during task conflict (Todorova, Bear, & Weingart, 2014).
More specifically, the positive emotions of interest and gratitude are linked to enhanced satisfaction with one’s work, while gratitude also positively impacts satisfaction with one’s coworkers and supervisors (Winslow, Hu, Kaplan, & Li, 2017). The same study that produced these results also found that both interest and gratitude predict an employee’s satisfaction with his or her promotion.
Not only do positive emotions enhance satisfaction with the job, they also reduce turnover intentions and reduce the effects of stress on employees (Sui, Cheung, & Lui, 2015).
These findings are intuitive; it makes sense that experiencing more positive emotions at work, like joy, interest, gratitude, and happiness, increases satisfaction with the work. Greater satisfaction with work has a clear and direct relationship with intentions to stay with the position.
Positive emotions in the workplace can facilitate more effective leadership as well as increasing job satisfaction. A study from 2013 surveyed followers to assess the relationship between transformational leadership and positive emotions and the impact on task performance; the study found that transformational leadership and positive emotions have a positive effect on task performance (Liang & Steve Chi, 2013). Not only was transformational leadership’s effect on performance enhanced, its impact on work engagement was also found to be enhanced by positive emotions (Wang, Li, & Li, 2017).
Similarly, authentic leadership was found to lead to more effective innovation in followers when coupled with positive emotions (Zhou, Ma, Cheng, & Xia, 2014). Another style of leadership, known as intellectual stimulator leadership, is more effective in boosting employee job satisfaction, effort, and effectiveness when positive emotions like enthusiasm, hope, pride, happiness, and inspiration complement the leadership (Zineldin, 2017).
Enhancing the Company’s Bottom Line
When employees experience positive emotions at work, they experience a broadening of perspective and may be able to build important resources. Early research on the effects of positive emotion on employee achievement and productivity found that the more positive emotion an individual experienced on the job, the higher their pay and better their supervisor evaluations were 18 months later (Staw, Sutton, & Pelled, 1994). Staw and colleagues also found that MBA students with higher positive emotions performed more accurately on a decision-making task than students with lower levels of positive emotions (1993).
Further research found that increased positive emotions resulted in increased clarity surrounding expectations in one’s role, effective and value-congruent use of organizational resources, fulfillment in one’s role, better relationships at work, and a general increase in the ownership employees feel over their work and the creativity that drives innovation and contributes to organizational success (Harter, Schmidt, & Keyes, 2002). Additionally, the expression and amplification of positive emotions can lead to enhanced goal attainment, whether the expression of emotions is directed towards coworkers or superiors (Wong, Tschan, Messerli, & Semmer, 2013).
Finally, positive emotions (in the form of hope, optimism, and resilience) were found to not only increase job satisfaction, work happiness, and organizational commitment, but to also improve employee performance, measured by both self-report and organizational performance appraisals (Youssef & Luthans, 2007).
A Take Home Message
There has never been more interest in positive emotions and their affect on our lives than at this moment, and for good reason! Positive emotions are linked to numerous benefits, in relationships, in one’s health and well-being, and in the workplace. Keep an eye out for news on positive emotions, and you will be keeping up with a bright and vibrant area of research.
To your success……..
Sent with Love