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Positive Psychologyas aTool to Improve the Bottom-line

Jim Heffernan, Director of Benefits at Granite Construction

Jim Heffernan, Director of Benefits at Granite Construction

A 2017 study demonstrated that increased employee engagement can lead to a 16.5 percent higher share price growth. Everyone has experienced a time when they were involved in a project or task where time seemed to disappear—this is being “in the flow” or “in the zone,” where focus is at its highest point. A focused employee is more likely to provide additional discretionary effort that comes when their job seems effortless. At Granite, we believe thatusing Positive Psychology builds more engaged and successful teams in the field and office.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life. Popularized by Dr. Martin Seligman in 1998, positive psychology was one of his primary initiatives as the President of the American Psychology Association. Dr. Seligman noted that, since WW2, psychology had focused primarily on human “problems” and how to fix them. This focus on treating psychological disorders created a tendency to center on the“disease model” of human nature, seeing people as flawed and fragile. 

Instead of focusing energy on assessing blame for or rationalizing one’s current situation, positive psychology focuses on putting effort towards what leads to success and potential for happiness—the “Good Life”.  In short, positive psychology focuses on the highs in life: optimism, individual passion, support systems coming from healthy relationships, purpose, and accomplishments.  The goal of positive psychology is towards a state of well-being and a positive experience of emotions.

So, what are the keys to this experience of well-being and positive emotions? First, appreciateyour unique nature and purpose in life. We all have individual strengths, by recognizing them and focusing on them you can be more successful.

The goal of positive psychology is towards a state of well-being and a positive experience of emotions.”

Second, by using those unique strengths to make a difference,either in your career or in the world, you can discover your purpose.  For instance, if you have a unique ability to serve others, focusing on a volunteer opportunity will help you gain a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. At work, purpose can be the difference between walking into a workplace—whether an office or a construction site—with a sense of being overwhelmed with tasks that don’t demonstrate much value versus being energized and ready to take on tasks that will be rewarding with an individual sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Third and finally, a solid support system is critical to enduring well-being and happiness.  Humans are social creatures, and it is essential that we have positive, intimate relations where we feel safe to be ourselves and supported in times of crisis. In the workplace, a trusting environment is one where employees are free to be creative, look at things differently, and take risks with the goal of improving the status quo. A supportive workplace is one in which employees can flourish and grow without worrying about occasional failures that lead to adverse consequences.

By creating teams where we recognize everyone’s unique talents and strengths,we put individuals in a position to be successful anddrive successful outcomes for the entire team. In turn, success at work leads to a sense of accomplishment and that an individual’s work matters.  Focusing on positive psychology and itspotential to create more optimistic employees, who see where they fit into the success of the organization, can lead to a culture where individual effort receives greater recognition and the bottom-line is improved.

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