A positive workplace is one that thrives and where employees are more easily able to perform at their best. However, in times that are challenging, where the workload never seems to lessen or where stress levels are high, how do we maintain workplace positivity?

Positive psychology and workplace positivity

Positive psychology continues to carry out research into what conditions create an environment where employees and organisations flourish and so here are 7 tips to create a positive workplace.

1. Play to your strengths

You may have heard of the phrase play to your strengths, but how often do we do this in practice? Quite often we focus on our weaknesses and what needs fixing rather than when we perform at our best. Research shows that knowing our strengths and using them more frequently, not only improves productivity, but it also increases confidence and positivity. You can find out what your strengths are by taking the VIA free psychological strengths survey.

2. Focus on past successes

Does your organisation concentrate more on the things that have gone wrong or what needs to be fixed rather than past success or what is working well? Focusing on failures and what isn’t working, can be demoralising and lead to negativity in the workplace. In Appreciative Inquiry, a model for organisational change, the first step is to discover the processes that are working well and the success stories. When we take this approach, it increases positivity in the workplace and boosts confidence in our abilities.

3. Have a growth mindset

Our attitude to failure can shape our success, as is borne out by the research into growth mindsets by Dr Carol Dweck. She found that people can be categorised into two types of mindset, the fixed mindset or the growth mindset. In a fixed mindset people believe that their talents and qualities are fixed traits, whereas in the growth mindset, people see failure as an opportunity to learn. If you want to increase positivity in the workplace, then find ways to learn from setbacks rather than dwelling on them.

4. Have a plan

Having a clear and compelling goal to aim for can create an air of positivity in the workplace. Just as focusing on past successes can contribute to positivity in the workplace, so can focusing on what future successes you would like to achieve. It is worth noting that when you’re creating your plan for the future, make sure that you anticipate potential obstacles and how you might overcome them, so as to be prepared and to keep motivation high.

5. Show self-compassion

Sometimes people can be their own worst enemy or harshest critic, which can have a negative impact, such as demotivating them or knocking their confidence. Research shows that self-compassion has a significant connection with increased optimism and positivity. If we can learn to forgive ourselves once in a while and remember all of the great things that we have achieved, then this can improve workplace positivity.

6. Build resilience

When people face challenging times it can sap positivity. However, a technique developed by resilience researchers, Drs Reivich and Shatte, about ‘putting it into perspective’ has been shown to build resilience, especially when people catastrophise and focus on the worst case scenario too much. To counter this, if people also imagine what the best case scenario could be, this can allow them to more freely envisage what the most likely outcome will be. Being able to see the most likely outcome rather than the worst case scenario can alleviate negativity and boost workplace positivity.

7. Choose optimism

Research carried out by positive psychology pioneer, Dr Martin Seligman, found that just as people can learn to be pessimistic, they can also learn how to be positive and optimistic. One of the ways of doing this is to dispute your negative thoughts. If you find yourself saying things like “we’ll never get this done”, challenge that belief with something positive, like, “what do we need to do to get this done?” or “what have we done in the past that would enable us to get this done?”. This can have a positive impact in the workplace as it shifts the focus away from the negative and on to more optimistic thoughts.

So there we have 7 ways to increase positivity in the workplace from the field of positive psychology. If you’d like to learn more about the science of positive psychology and ways in which you can apply it in your personal and professional life, then join us on our university accredited ‘Introduction to Positive Psychology’ course.