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Signature Strengths at Work: Four or More is Best

Businesswoman consulting a partner

Here’s a question that scientists are saying can really matter:

  • How many of your top strengths do you express at work?

Workplaces can be very demanding and stressful. It is not uncommon to hear the advice to “play to your strengths” or “use your strengths more at work.” Some individuals will take this recommendation and start using their teamwork strength more or start to apply their gratitude strength each day.

New research is discovering that the key idea is not only that you use your strengths but that you use several of your best strengths in your work environment. Researchers have found that you are more likely to have positive experiences at work if you are using at least FOUR of your signature strengths. Those individuals who expressed less than four of their top strengths had less positive work experiences.

Here’s how to put this new finding into action:

  • Identify your top strengths by taking the VIA Survey online. You will receive free, immediate results.
  • Examine those strengths that appear in your top 7.
  • Ask yourself: How many of these strengths am I regularly using during my work-day?
    • If you are using 4 or more, then commend yourself! You might consider how you can keep a daily awareness of this strengths use.
    • If you are using 0-3 top strengths, start by adding in one more strength. Find a way to use one of your top strengths in a new way. Brainstorm with your supervisor. Journal about ways you’ve used your strengths at work in the past. Ask others to give you examples of when they’ve seen you express each of your top strengths.


Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012): When the job is a calling: The role of applying one’s signature strengths at work. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI:10.1080/17439760.2012.702784

Creative Commons License photo credit: inlinguaManchester

Signature Strengths at Work: Four or More is Best

Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

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APA Reference
Niemiec, R. (2012). Signature Strengths at Work: Four or More is Best. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Sep 2012
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