You and your team deserve to enjoy work. The workplace should be a positive influence on people and their lives. Yet for too many it’s just not the case. In one study, 48% of employees frequently feel a lot of stress in their work. This adversely affects their wellbeing. Boutique consultancy Root found that 68% of workers feel that their managers are more focused on their own success instead of inspiring their employees. The workplace has become lopsided—too much negativity and not enough optimism.
I’ve written about workplace optimism here and here and here. In short, though, it is a mood in the environment that gives people hope that good things can come from their work. Furthermore, people have meaningful relationships and work that fulfill basic needs.
So what, then, can a leader do to cultivate such a vibe? Let’s take a look at some actionable ways to find some balance in the lopsided workplace.
- Repair the Relationship with Employees
For too long hierarchy has characterized the leader-employee role. This has prevented many leaders from learning about their employees’ aspirations, strengths, interests, or family life.
Family life is important here. Work influences a person’s family life. Most do not “turn off” work when they go home for the day. The stressors of the day linger, work emails beckon, and project deadlines loom. A powerful way to repair the relationship between you and your employee is to pay attention and do something about how the workplace affects your team’s family life.
- Help Employees Find Purpose
Entrepreneur Aaron Hurst wrote in Purpose Economy that “[purpose] is fundamentally fueled by our pursuit of the fulfillment of [connection and self expression.]”
A powerful way to repair the relationship between you and your employee is to pay attention and do something about how the workplace affects your team’s family life.
While most of us are familiar with understanding the organization’s purpose, it’s not enough. Optimistic workplaces encourage employees to uncover their own purpose.
The savvy leader harnesses this enthusiasm, the passion, to help people grow into who they are. While the Industrial Age leader may see this as “fluffy,” today’s leader recognizes that self-expression can be good for business.
Gallup has found that self-expression is a positive outcome when engagement, productivity and personal well-being are part of a person’s work experience. Gallup goes on to explain “focusing on that means working towards a more prosperous world—and perhaps a safer one.”
Helping employees find purpose in their work and personal life is key to workplace optimism. The place to start with this is ensuring you spend time learning about your employees aspirations and goals, taking you back to the first item listed here.
- Focus on Developing your Employees
While this may seem obvious, it’s not done enough. Sending people off to training is hardly the only solution. How do you integrate what was learned into the employee’s development plan? What on-the-job assignments are you lining up for your employee to deepen her knowledge, strengths, and abilities? And just as important, develop your employees by leveraging her strengths—work that energizes. Training is rarely the only solution to developing your employees.
The three items listed above are great starts to cultivating an environment marked by optimism. It takes persistence and a passion for people to thrive in their life, both at work and home. This shift in perspective is key to promote workplace optimism.
A version of this was first posted on switchandshift.com