Optimism in the Workplace
Author: Michael Scaletti
If the last two years have taught us anything, it's that there are many things that are not within our control, especially when it comes to the workplace. Furloughs, layoffs, hour changes, work environment changes, remote work upticks, all of these affect us and often not by our own choosing. How we react to these changes, however, can define us, as workers and as people, and can also make them easier to manage.
We all know optimists and pessimists. It's likely you have a mix of them that you work with. The importance of optimism in the workplace cannot be overstated though. It will boost your well-being, your engagement, and, according to several studies, your productivity, while also helping to build a positive environment for your coworkers.
Note that this doesn't mean going into work blind to problems, or accepting negative aspects of work, especially if those aspects are changeable. It does, however, mean staying positive in the face of adversity and assuming the best until proven otherwise.
Optimism has been shown to increase health and happiness, to lead to a more committed and productive workforce, to reduce stress, and to combat burnout. While a certain level of optimism can develop simply as a byproduct of the employees that a company has on staff and their personality types, it behooves any business to try to foster an environment where optimism can flourish.
There are many ways that employers can promote optimism in the workplace, and combat low morale, and employees have a duty to their workers and their business to encourage positivity in practical, meaningful ways. Here are some examples:
Celebrate Your Workers:
Recognize the work and achievements of your employees. According to Gallup, more than 80% of employees are motivated by recognition that’s honest, authentic and personalized. It's worth remembering that this type of recognition typically costs employers little to nothing, while netting huge returns. Take the time to acknowledge the work your employees have put in, the tasks they have succeeded at, and the efforts they are making. Feeling valued is one of the key ways to keep employees engaged and optimistic!
Be Honest With Your Workers:
Nobody likes to be blindsided. That is especially true at work. If there is a problem with an employees performance than be sure to take the time to provide clear, honest, constructive feedback. Give them a chance to correct the issue. Employees can not correct an issue they do not know is one. Work with them, and then once the issue is corrected, be sure to acknowledge them for the work they did to correct it!
One of the absolute worst ways to impact morale and productivity in the workplace is to micromanage. By attempting to control exactly when and how your employees accomplish their assigned tasks, you are indicating that you do not trust and believe in them.
This extends to having a flexible work environment as well. In a post-pandemic world, remote work is here to stay. While there are certainly some tasks that cannot be completed remotely, if it is possible and you don't embrace giving your employees the option to work at least some of their time from home, you will be cutting yourself off from many of the best candidates and undermining the positivity of some of those you already have. Remember, the value of your employees to your business is how successfully they complete their tasks, not how many hours you watched them work.