There are many organizations and small businesses out there that recognize the value of multiple bottom lines beyond simply profit. Building an inspiring work culture and investing in the health and development of their people is an additional priority for long-term business success.

Research supports that certain positive psychological outcomes relate to greater organizational outcomes. Positive emotions and related processes can lead to greater motivation, fulfillment with work, and the ability to cope with stress and uncertainty.

Whether you are experiencing particularly rough times economically and professionally, or if you just seem to be coasting by without much satisfaction or joy with the work you do, here are a few ways to advance your performance and work experience.

1. Strengths, virtues, and self-determination

Research has shown that employees who are fully engaged in the work they do, and who have a sense of intrinsic motivation, are likely to perform better and a have better work outcomes.

Taking an approach of self-determination offers freedom and autonomy for workers to flourish and become absorbed in the work they do best. This involves employees uncovering their signature strengths and having the freedom to use them.

These traits also lead people to experience flow, where they are fully engaged in a productive challenge. This is a state where time seems to fly by, and we feel like we’re “in the zone.”

2. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capacity to identify and regulate emotions in ourselves and others, and has implications for both internal and external customer relationships. Emotional intelligence allows us to recognize our own personality tendencies, and to better understand the personality traits of others so we can most effectively interact with them.

More specifically, EI is the ability to manage counterproductive emotions, such as stress and anger, and ultimately begin to harness more positive feelings such as optimism, hope, and creativity, so we can stay motivated and perform up to our potential.

3. Psychological capital and positive organizational behavior

Study of Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) has examined how to apply human strengths, resources, and psychological capacities to improve performance in the workplace.

Four basic capacities typically explored related to job satisfaction and performance includes: self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resiliency.

With higher levels of these states, people are more confident, better able to manage stress and adversity, have a higher level of motivation and drive, and likely to pursue growth and development. They also build upon each other to increase Positive Psychological Capital or the maintenance of these positive capacities.

4. Level of innovation and change

A major factor in a healthy organizational culture is the fit between an organization’s values and the disposition and values of the employees. A specific value is to examine is where on the continuum your organization falls between change and stability. Some organizations are prone to change where others are much more stable and stagnant.

How employees respond to change and innovation is important to consider in order to have a good fit with personal and organizational culture. Having a good fit will help employees be energized, have a positive attitude, and feel safe and secure in their role.

5. The virtuous organization

According to the article, “Virtuous organizations infuse an ethical perspective into their cultures, have multiple bottom lines, promote self-determining, emotionally intelligent, and team-oriented behavior patterns and develop supportive leaders that enable others to succeed, all of which can lead to productive and creative outcomes (Froman, 2010).”

During times of economic stress and uncertainty, an organization can benefit from developing a culture of integrity, trust, and respect.  An environment of negativity, cynicism, and mistrust are not as productive or satisfying as those of positivity, confidence, optimism, hope, and resilience.

Organizations can learn to coach employees to set challenging, measurable, personally valuable goals, as well as realistic pathways and approach strategies to accomplish these goals and overcome obstacles. Through using strengths and achieving growth, Positive Psychological Capital can enhance job-satisfaction and performance.

Photo credit:


Froman, L. (2010). Positive Psychology in the Workplace. Journal of Adult Development, 17 (2), 59-69.



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    Last reviewed: 13 Nov 2011

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). 5 Ways Positive Psychology Can Improve the Workplace. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 2, 2015, from



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