There’s a lot that you – our followers and iPPQ respondents – are telling us is going well for you at work at the moment. Really well. Read on to hear about the all-time-high results for time-on-task and employee engagement during Coronavirus months.
In 2009, Jessica Pryce-Jones published “Happiness at Work; Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success” and so began iOpener’s ongoing collection of data and reporting on people’s happiness at work and the elements that form the ecosystem of the Performance Happiness Model.
The sciences of happiness and happiness at work have gained momentum throughout the world over the years since 2009. But today it’s the term psychological capital I’d like to come back to, because it’s hugely important in Coronavirus times.
What is Psychological Capital?
Psychological capital is a catch-all term that defines your mindset. Think of it as a resource at your disposal. Pryce-Jones describes it as a bank account or reserve that we deposit into when times are good and draw on when times are tough.
Well, I don’t need to tell you that we are living through tough times. So, you’ll be relying on it heavily at the moment. It comprises things like your optimism, hope, pride, confidence, self-belief, energy, etc. It is built at an individual level, but joins forces with colleagues’ reserves of the same to build social capital. And social capital gets things done.
Positive emotions of this sort play an essential role in our survival as they help us build resilience and self-motivate. They are also especially important in our ability to be creative and to innovate.
There are ten positive emotions, according to Professor Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina. All ten play a role at work and help grow your psychological capital. Fredrickson studies these emotions through the lens of social science, rooted in research studies, hypothesis and data.
What are the 10 Positive Emotions?
Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions explains that, even more important than feeling these emotions, is what you do with them and how you leverage them.
How positive emotions serve us
As human beings, first we have an emotion that then informs our cognition. Then the cognition is followed by action. So the conscious or subconscious emotion leads to thinking. And this then spurs us into action. The action could be to say something, to do something, or to behave in a certain way. Importantly, it’s the emotion that comes first and leads the way. As Antonio Damasio, at the University of Southern California, says, “We are feeling beings who also think.”
So, when the emotion is a positive one, the thinking and the action that follow are also positive. Fredrickson talks about the thought-action repertoire. When you experience a burst of positive emotion, you build your personal wellbeing; physical, intellectual and social resources (Fredrickson 2009). You’re expanding your thought-action repertoire. These resources are an investment in your future wellbeing and can be drawn upon in later times when experiencing different emotional states, to maintain wellbeing.
Research suggests that negative emotions serve the opposite function of positive ones. When threatened with negative emotions like anxiety, fear, frustration, or anger, the mind constricts and focuses in on the imposing threat (whether real or imagined) thus limiting your ability to be open to new ideas, to build resources and relationships.
In these Coronavirus times of uncertainty, people are desperate for everyone to feel good again, together. Building psychological capital whenever and wherever possible is important for you and your colleagues in order to grow a sense of team resilience. Or, in the best of cases, to go beyond resilience to what is termed anti-fragility by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb i.e. the ability to grow and develop through times of disorder.
How to grow the positive
Each time someone has good news, has read something positive, has learnt something new and interesting, has had a positive conversation, has been acknowledged or appreciated, has had someone voice gratitude towards them, has achieved a goal, or has experienced a sharing of values with a colleague … whatever has caused even a small – perhaps seemingly insignificant – injection of positivity, this can catalyse an upward spiral. So, be on the lookout for positives to share. Pass on the boost. To do so is energising for you and for others. It engenders hope and upliftment. It broadens and builds.
Self-motivation during Coronavirus times may be difficult to muster. And relatedness with your colleagues has evolved into something rather different whilst working remotely, or perhaps even been neglected. But positivity and energy are transferable in milliseconds across cyber space. It doesn’t require you to be physically in one place. So, in order to help garner what Jonathan Haidt, Professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, calls elevation with your colleagues (a feel-good-factor), remember to articulate the positive.
The positive message in iPPQ results during COVID-19
Thank you for keeping us data-happy by filling in our iPPQ over the past months. What we’ve learnt is that the most commonly experienced positive emotions you’re feeling are:
- feeling pride in your organization
- enjoying a sense of hope through knowing you can rely on your own efficiency and effectiveness
- finding joy in using your strengths
- experiencing serenity by doing meaningful work
As Oriana Tickell wrote in her blog “Leading employee morale” earlier this month, our iPPQ respondents are saying that they need more communication and recognition. Consider how you can voice more gratitude and appreciation, ask others how you can support them, acknowledge goals that have been achieved and remind colleagues how much you believe in their ability to make things happen.
Your all-time-high time on-task
On an individual psychological level, people have truly upped their game during Coronavirus: Scores on several of the happiness-performance indicators are at all-time-highs, indicating that your sense of self-reliance is high and that you are more resilient than you’re currently willing to admit to yourselves.
You say that you’re energized 70% of your day, feeling happy 72% of your day and spending 72% of your time on-task as well, and feeling engaged 81% of your day*.
Please keep us data-happy! Just one minute of your time …
We’re doing Time-On-Task Research. It’s a very quick anonymous data collection survey; please answer five quick questions about your recent time-on-task here.
And get your free iPPQ here:
And, if you haven’t yet taken the iPPQ wellbeing-at-work survey, please register here. By registering, you’ll get an invitation to the iPPQ survey within one working day. It’s free of charge at the moment and will yield you a nine-page report; including self-coaching questions to help you grow more psychological capital for yourself.
*These figures are the mean figures for the months of April, May & June 2020 from 850 iPPQ respondents across the world, 75% of whom are employees in organizations, 15% of whom are business owners and 10% are self-employed.
by Katie Demain
Director of Leadership Development Programs at iOpener