How Organisations can reap the benefits of having Happy and Motivated workers

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Posted on: August 7, 2018

How Organisations can reap the benefits of having Happy and Motivated workers

written by Roy Tan

I remember many years ago, after working as a Sales Engineer for a couple of years, I felt as if I was never appreciated for the efforts that I had put in and the management only cares about profit. This made my commitment and motivation deteriorate. Have you had a similar experience? There is nothing worse than going to the workplace every day, dragging your feet and walking into an office that is filled with negativity, cynicism and apathy. Well, the good news is that the field of positive psychology recognises this, and has been researched extensively on how working in a positive organisational culture can enhance productivity and human capital.A recent survey revealed that 72 percent of Singapore employers are concerned that stress and mental health issues are affecting employee productivity (Lin, 2017).

Positive Psychologyin the Workplace

Positive Psychology in the workplace had been studied by Donaldson and Ko (2010) with Luthans and Church (2002), the first to apply positive psychology to the workplace. They determined the concept and theoretical model of positive organisational behaviour, which is defined as the study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that are able to be measured, developed, and managed effectively for performance improvement in the workplace. A further research by Luthans & Youssef (2007) found evidence that a positive psychological state created by positive psychology can give an organisation a competitive edge. Most companies strategise on ways to increase their profit margin, reduce their loss, and gain the biggest return on their investment, thus neglecting their employees’ job satisfaction, happiness and wellbeing (Froman, 2010). As a result, low morale, productivity loss, poor performance, high stress levels, burnt-out, a negative working environment and a high turnover rate, manifest. In the end, all these could cost companies millions or billions of dollars per year (Gordon, 2008).

Realisation of Organisations

Encouragingly, organisations are increasingly challenged to mitigate adverse impacts of the complex workplace by facilitating their employees’ positive psychological well-being through strengths-based programs and interventions (Page & Vella-Brodrick, 2012). Those who can survive in high-risk job situations are individuals with positive affect, active coping, mastery, and optimism (Tuck & Anderson, 2014). Hence, investing in the positive wellbeing of employees is a wise business strategy but most organisations still do not quite understand how positive psychology can be applied into a corporate setting.

Positive psychology is helpful for understanding and facilitating factors which enable the flourishing of individuals (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). It is defined as a discipline which promotes the significance of positive emotions and individual strengths in producing successful outcomes (Fredrickson, 2003). Positive emotions and related processes can lead to greater motivation, fulfilment with work, and the ability to cope with stress and uncertainty. Whether you are experiencing challenging times economically and professionally, or dragging yourself to work without motivation or joy with the work you do, here are a few ways to advance your performance and work experience:

Character Strengths 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 (Ryan & Deci, 2000). 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 character strengths (Peterson & Seligman, 2004) and having the freedom to use them. These traits will also lead people to experience ‘flow’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996), where they are fully engaged in a productive challenge, a state where time seems to fly by, and we feel like we’re “in the zone.”

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 (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). It is the perception of emotions to accurately identify and perceive emotions in self and others, the use of emotion to aid in judgement and memory thought, to understand deep and complex emotions and their susceptibility to change, combine and progress, and finally, to reflect and regulate negative emotions, like stress and anger, and counter-promote positive feelings of optimism, hope and creativity, so we can stay motivated and perform up to our potential.

Psychological capital and positive organizational behaviour

Positive organisational behaviour (POB) features psychological capital as one of its most essential constructs (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007) . They have examined how to apply human strengths, resources, and psychological capacities to improve performance in the workplace.  The four basic capacities related to job satisfaction and performance includes: hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism.

Hope(H)refers to a positive state where an individual possesses the motivation or willpower to achieve a particular goal and the competence to plan alternatives to pursue goals in the midst of obstacles or difficulty, known as pathways (Luthans et al., 2008). Hope is considered to be a cognitive strength that has a strong correlation with emotional well-being and positive health outcomes (Venning et al., 2011).

Self-efficacy (E)refers to the individual perceptions on one’s own ability to control particular situations and confidence in achieving tasks (Bandura, 1997). In the work context, it is a person’s conviction of having the needed abilities to undertake a set of actions towards successfully executing tasks (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998).

Resilience (R)is defined by Luthans et al., (2008) as a person’s capacity to bounce back from conflict, stress, failure or any adversity. Finally,

Optimism(O) is possessing a positive outlook despite anticipating challenges in the future (Llorens, Acosta, & Torrente, 2013) and studies have shown that optimistic individuals recorded significantly lower stress levels and higher overall life satisfaction (Seligman, 2011). With higher levels of these states, workers will have their level of motivation and drive increase and this leads to greater productivity.

Encourage bottom-up leadership and development

Examine teamwork and corporate culture through the concept of reciprocal determinism. This is the idea that employees mutually influence each other through performance and behaviour. In this sense employees can feel empowered to become role-models to develop PsyCap in other employees.

Developing a culture of positivity aids in relationship building and broadens the spectrum for problem solving and creativity amongst co-workers.


Employees are continually seeking work that is intrinsically motivating and offers growth and satisfaction. If they feel supported, they will be motivated  and enjoy their job, leading them to be more committed to the organisation and become a great asset. If you want greater productivity, focus on building Psychological Capital in your employees today.



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Lin, J. (2017). Is work stress driving you nuts? Only 51% of employers in Singapore are   ready to help. The Straits Times.Retrieved from:

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Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and       classification. New York: Oxford University Press & Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ryan, R., and Deci, E. 2000. “Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being.” American Psychologist, 55: 68-78.

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