3 Powerful Ways to Promote Workplace Optimism

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

The Nuanced Truth about True Happiness at Work

We all want to feel good and true happiness is the answer, right? Well, according to Harvard Medical School psychologist, Dr. Susan David, it’s more nuanced than “happiness equals goodness.”

In Dr. David’s book Emotional Agility, she writes, “The paradox of happiness is that deliberately striving for it is fundamentally incompatible with the nature of happiness itself.” She goes on to explain that for happiness to be meaningful it must come from finding intrinsic value in the activity. “Striving for happiness establishes an expectation, which confirms the saying that expectations are resentments waiting to happen,” writes Dr. David.

Dr. David’s point about “intrinsic value” is central to longer-lasting happiness. Hedonistic happiness, or fleeting happiness experienced when pursuing something pleasurable, is extrinsic and short-lived. True happiness derived from meaning, self-awareness, and growth in life is intrinsic and helps a person become more fully-functioning. This true happiness fuels the pursuit of becoming your best self.

The Downside of True Happiness

Adding another layer of reality, the author/psychologist explains that happiness can blind us from “threats and dangers.” We develop biases against seeing the “negative” aspects of a situation when we pursue happiness as a means to an end. “The happy more often place disproportionate emphasis on early information and disregard or minimize later details,” explains Dr. David, citing one disadvantage of a happy mood.

While there are downsides to happiness, it’s not all “bad.”

At the award winning PR firm S3 Agency, CEO and founder Denise Blasevick, has tapped into the benefits of promoting a genuine sense of true happiness in the workplace.

Promoting True Happiness

In an interview with Blasevick, she explained that to create an environment where true happiness is authentic, the leader needs to be personally happy. “[It’s] too big a lift if they’re not happy.” The feel-good emotion won’t be genuine if the leader’s intentions aren’t honest.

The primary source of promoting workplace happiness at S3 is its high priority in the company’s culture

  • The organization makes time to inspire employees even if it takes time away from client work
  • Vision boards encourage a conversation about what’s important to employees beyond work itself
  • Management focuses on and rewards what’s “right” and doesn’t focus solely on mistakes or what’s “wrong”
  • The company helps employees find meaning in their work

True happiness is also a source for Blasevick’s leadership of the company. Here priority focus is to inspire employees’ performance in the company. She asks herself, “what can I do to energize the company?”

When I asked Blasevick a reason for promoting workplace happiness she explained, “Every business goes through bad times. It’s easier to go through these times when people are close-knit.”

Blasevick points out an important nuance: happiness at work isn’t a constant. It ebbs and flows, just as how we experience the emotion. And it should be this way.

Conflicting Emotions

Dr. David writes in her book, “When the environment is safe and familiar, we tend not to think long and hard about anything too challenging.” Clearly this is not a characteristic indicative of a high-performing culture. Leaders need to leverage both the upsides and downsides of emotions such as happiness.

What’s more, the pursuit of happiness doesn’t mean we should ignore conflicting emotions, anger for example. When we honestly recognize that the range of emotions we could experience in a day can be advantageous, we can produce greater results. Those “darker” emotions provide a valuable window into perspectives and ideas that are hidden from view when we solely seek true happiness.

Building a Culture

Blasevick’s pursuit of true happiness at S3 isn’t one shielded from the range of emotions employees experience. It’s from a genuine interest in helping employees perform at their best levels and enjoy their work experiences. This comes with the understanding and acceptance that happiness can’t always be present. However, intentionally building a culture on a positive emotion like happiness can lead to powerful business outcomes.

“Positive emotions also drive us to success, help us make better decisions, reduce the risk of disease, and allow us to live longer,” writes Dr. David. This is a vital takeaway for leaders who want to create a positive workplace culture and climate. This encourages employees to consider a wider range of possibilities when looking to solve problems important to the business.

This article originally appeared on

Careers: Better Choices Mean Better Business #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for full Storify highlights + resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? Read the #TChat Recap: “Bring Your ‘Genius’ to Work.“)

Happiness at work
. Passion for your profession. Finding your bliss.

These days, we hear a lot about the importance of being emotionally connected with our careers.

Sounds like a nice idea — but it’s much more than that. Research shows that it’s a key driver of professional performance. It’s also an essential aspect of employee engagement. Yet statistics show that, for most of us, it remains an elusive goal.

Bucking the Trend

This week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how each of us can defy those statistics by gaining better understanding of our individual strengths and motivations — and by putting those insights to work through better career choices.

We’ll also look at why it’s smart for business to encourage this kind of investigation and discovery.

And who better to help lead this discussion than career management expert, Maggie Mistal? Before establishing herself as the personality behind the long-running SiriusXM radio show, “Making A Living,” Maggie was Director of Learning & Development at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Also joining us is Laura Rolands, a former HR executive at Chrysler, who, with Maggie’s guidance, launched a rewarding practice as an ADHD coach.

Sneak Peek: Finding Your “Career Core”

To frame this week’s events, I spoke briefly with both Maggie and Laura about how and why it pays for all of us to pursue careers that leverage our strengths. Watch the hangout now:

This discussion has potential to help each of us find more fulfilling work lives, while helping organizations develop more effective talent strategies. So join the #TChat crowd this week to share your ideas and opinions with other “world of work” professionals!

#TChat Events: Claiming Your “Core” Career

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 5 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands critical about how to find and claim your core career “genius.” Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 5 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community, in a live chat moderated by Dr. Nancy Rubin.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: How can we align our career aspirations with our strengths?
Q2: When a job isn’t fulfilling, what can we do to take charge of our career?
Q3: How can we continually identify and develop skills and talents?
Q4: What value does business gain from encouraging “career genius” in employees?
Q5: How can new technology help us redirect and manage our careers?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our new G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!