Positive psychology is a science of positive aspects of human life, such as well-being, psychology of happiness, flow, personal strengths, wisdom, creativity, imagination and characteristics of positive groups and institutions.
On Wednesday 8th June we were delighted to welcome Dr Ilona Boniwell and Positran for a truly uplifting breakfast briefing. With the theme of positive psychology at the heart of the presentation, attendees were amazed to discover the extent in which happiness and engagement improves workplace performance.
Following a quick tour of the buffet table, attendees took to their seats to be greeted with some harsh workplace realities. Dr Boniwell commented that 1 in 4 CEO’s plan to leave their companies, less than 20% of people are happy at work and only 9% of French employees are engaged at work. It was also noted that employees often sacrifice personal time for work, subsequently having a detrimental effect on mental health. What’s more, surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, France is seen to be the most pessimistic country in Europe despite having, on average, longer holidays and the number 1 rated European healthcare system.
Dr Boniwell then turned the conversation onto more positive ground, and looked at ways to combat this. Firstly we were given a background to positive psychology, the science of optimal human functioning, wellbeing and strength that uses an approach of “building on what is strong rather than fixing what is wrong”. This approach also draws attention to the notion “survive to thrive” which goes from the two extremes, deficit (conflict, stress, negative) to thriving (positive, happy).
Attendees were asked questions throughout the presentation and it became apparent that negativity and discontent in the workplace is more common and perhaps as a result of this, that happy people at work are actually considered to be lazy. This brought us onto the next argument, does happiness at work always mean good performance? Dr Boniwell stated that on a scientific level, those with a positive outlook are more effective at many tasks and can find solutions due to increased brain activity, whereas if you have a negative and stressed outlook, you are effective at one task.
It was also stated that if you are happy, you are more innovative, more cooperative, healthier and more efficient. The golden rule was that happiness + engagement = performance. However this was challenged by the audience who noted that although you may not be happy in a job you are still engaged and motivated with high performance levels. The result of this however is an eventual burn-out. For this engagement to be sustainable, happiness must be present.
Following this informative presentation (coupled with coffee and croissants) attendees of the breakfast skipped out to commence their days with a more positive outlook. We would like to thank Dr Boniwell, Positran and IoD for this successful briefing and we look forward to the next instalment.
For further information about improving workplace performance through positive psychology, please visit Positran’s site.