Where's Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work

The Business Value Of Positive Psychology

Most of us are familiar with the terms “economic capital” and “human capital” — two fundamentals of modern business. But what about the notion of “psychological capital,” and its role in driving individual and organizational performance?

Researchers have been studying the application of Positive Psychology in the workplace, and a growing body of evidence demonstrates that a positive mindset affects our attitudes toward work, as well as the subsequent outcomes. As Dr. Fred Luthans explains in the video at the end of this post, our “psychological capital” can, indeed, have a significant impact upon work and career.

Previously, I’ve discussed how the tenets of positive psychology hold great potential as a guide to help individuals and organizations elevate workplace happiness. Overall, the movement focuses on identifying and building on what is “right” with our work lives — emphasizing our strengths, celebrating smaller successes, expressing gratitude. Central to this theory is the mechanism that helps us build our “psychological resources,” and use this collected energy to digest and cope with our work lives.

Finding Your Workplace “HERO”

To provide a practical framework for this concept, researchers have developed what they aptly call the Psychological Capital (PsyCap) construct. It features various psychological resources (a.k.a. “HERO” resources) that are central to our work life experiences. We combine these resources in various ways to meet the challenges of our daily work lives.

What are HERO resources?

Hope: Belief in the ability to persevere toward goals and find methods to reach them
Efficacy: Confidence that one can put forth the effort to affect outcomes
Resilience: Ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or failure
Optimism: A generally positive view of work and the potential of success

Finding Your Workplace HERO

Notably, studies have established (Avey, Luthans, et al., 2011) a clear positive relationship between PsyCap and multiple desired workplace outcomes, including job satisfaction, organizational commitment and psychological well-being. Moreover, the construct correlates negatively with undesirable organizational behaviors, including cynicism, anxiety, stress, and the intention to resign.

If you’re an employer, you’re probably wondering if you can improve the strength of an employee’s HERO resources over time. On a promising note, PsyCap appears to be a “state like” quality that is open to change. This contrasts with traits that tend to be largely stable over time, such as the “Big 5” personality traits — extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

Assuming that psychological capital can be developed and strengthened over time, there are broad implications for key workplace behavior conventions, such as the nature of performance feedback, modes of learning and development, role design and leadership style.

Do you feel that focusing on PsyCap could enhance your work life or organizational culture? How would you apply this concept in your world of work?

(Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from a LinkedIn Influencer post, with permission.)

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Image Credit: CGArtiste (Superman is © DC Comics)