How to Encourage Positivity at the Workplace

As a HR professional, one of your key goals is keeping employee morale up. This sounds simple but it is one of the key building blocks of many other goals including employee retention, engagement and new hire integration.

Research done at Stanford University discovered the link between positive attitudes and learning. The study looked at how students’ positive or negative attitude towards math might affect their performance on a math assessment. The subjects were first given a survey about their attitude towards math and their self-perceived ability. They were also given a questionnaire designed to capture student demographics, IQ and working-memory capacity.

The Subjects were then given a math assessment to measure their knowledge and problem-solving abilities. Shockingly, the researchers found that a positive attitude contributed to higher performance in math (after controlling for all other factors, including IQ). Delving deeper, researchers found that a positive attitude was connected to greater activity in the hippocampus area of the brain, resulting in increased problem solving and memory performance. Now that we’ve convinced you, how can you go about spreading a positive mindset?

#1 Highlight workplace benefits and make employees feel special

Now this is dependent on the state of your welfare system – make sure to keep highlighting the exclusive perks your staff can enjoy. Some examples include having a “discount corner” set up where new perks are posted or having a monthly newsletter sent out that details the exclusive discounts and rewards staff of your organization get.

#2 Share positive news and/or stories

This can include any topic. For example, start a campaign where all new mothers are toasted with a cake in the office. On a more impromptu basis, encourage colleagues with positive stories of success to share them. This could be work related, like how a mix unit team completed a large project or secured a big client. It could also be more personal, like a story of how a colleague overcame cancer. Your employees will be boosted by this and also feel greater connection to the organization.

#3 Create programs that encourage praise and support

This means increasing the avenues of thanking and publicly praising employees that have done a good job. This does not have to be in the form of expensive gifts or bonuses. Instead, find platforms where employees who have done well can be thanked or even publicly praised by their manager (here are some simple ways to show your appreciation). Ensure that the barrier to entry for such programs isn’t too high – you don’t want 1 person to be praised every year. Instead, try and create a system where people feel happy to give compliments and encourage one another on a regular basis. When you start hearing managers at your organization thank their team for staying late the night before a deadline, you know that you’re on the right track.

Chen, L., et al. (2018). Positive attitude toward math supports early academic success: Behavioral evidence and neurocognitive mechanisms. Psychological Science. doi: 0956797617735528.

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