A happy worker is a productive worker. For years, this adage has been repeated in corporate mantra and motivational speeches. But happiness is not just a buzzword – it is a fundamental aspect of employee wellbeing and performance.
A positive work environment can not only make employees happier, but also improve their productivity, creativity, and engagement. But how can employers create such an environment? The PERMA (Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment) model offers a comprehensive framework for addressing employee wellbeing and performance.
Developed by Martin Seligman, the founder of the positive psychology movement, the PERMA model emphasises five interconnected elements that can contribute to a thriving work culture. Together, these elements create a holistic approach to employee wellbeing that goes beyond traditional wellness programs and performance metrics.
Positive emotions are not just the icing on the cake – they are the driving force behind employee motivation and resilience. In a positive work environment, employees experience emotions such as joy, gratitude, and hope. This leads to a virtuous cycle where positive emotions fuel positive actions and attitudes. For example, a simple act of kindness by a co-worker or manager can boost an employee's mood and productivity. These positive behaviours then trigger positive emotions in others, creating a ripple effect throughout the workplace.
On the other hand, negative emotions can also breed more negative emotions. When someone experiences negative emotions, such as frustration or anger, they may be more likely to engage in behaviours that are detrimental to relationships and teamwork. Negative behaviours, such as criticism or avoidance, can provoke negative emotions in others, leading to a chain reaction of negativity.
This phenomenon is often referred to as emotional contagion, where emotions spread from one person to another. It happens because humans are wired to pick up on and mimic the emotions of those around them. This can be both beneficial and detrimental in a workplace setting, depending on whether the emotions being shared are positive or negative.
Therefore, cultivating a positive emotional climate in the workplace is crucial. Leaders can promote positive emotions by highlighting successes and achievements, fostering a sense of humour and playfulness, and encouraging team celebrations and rituals. They can also model positive emotions themselves by expressing gratitude and appreciation for their employees' hard work.
Engagement refers to the level of absorption and involvement that employees feel in their work. Engaged employees are motivated, focused, and committed to their job. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates. On the other hand, disengaged employees can negatively impact team morale and productivity.
Leaders should regularly check-in with their employees to understand their needs, concerns, and challenges. By offering support and guidance, leaders can help employees overcome obstacles and maintain a positive work-life balance. This shows a genuine level of care about employees' well-being.
In addition, providing meaningful and challenging work, offering opportunities for growth and development, and empowering employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work fosters a strong sense of engagement.
Relationships are at the heart of every workplace, and they play a critical role in employee wellbeing and performance. Positive workplace relationships can lead to increased job satisfaction, enhanced creativity, and improved communication and collaboration. On the other hand, negative relationships can lead to anxiety, stress, and burnout.
Every team is unique and may face different relationship challenges. First, the leader should seek to understand the root causes of the relationship challenges within the team. These causes can vary but often include miscommunication, conflicting goals, lack of trust, personality clashes, or unresolved conflicts. By identifying the specific issues, a leader can develop targeted solutions.
Trust is crucial for healthy relationships within a team. Open and honest communication is vital to create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns. When conflicts arise, a leader should address them promptly and impartially. This might involve facilitating difficult conversations, mediating conflicts, or providing resources for conflict resolution training.
Leaders can also promote positive relationships by encouraging teamwork and collaboration, creating opportunities for social connection and interaction, and building a supportive and inclusive work culture.
Meaning refers to the sense of purpose and significance that employees derive from their work. When employees feel that their work is meaningful and aligned with their values, they are more likely to feel engaged and satisfied. In contrast, when employees feel that their work lacks meaning or purpose, they may feel disengaged and unfulfilled.
Leaders can promote meaning by helping employees understand the organisation's mission and values, connecting employees' work to larger goals and objectives, and rewarding and recognising employees for their contributions. They can also create opportunities for employees to engage in meaningful work outside their job role, such as volunteering or philanthropy.
Accomplishment refers to the sense of achievement and progress that employees feel in their work. Employees who feel a sense of accomplishment tend to be more motivated, optimistic, and resilient. In contrast, employees who feel that their work lacks measurable outcomes may feel frustrated and disengaged.
Leaders can promote accomplishment by setting clear goals and expectations, providing constructive feedback and support, and recognising and rewarding employees for their achievements. They can also create a culture of continuous learning and improvement, where employees feel empowered to take risks and try new things.
In summary, the PERMA model offers a comprehensive and holistic approach to employee wellbeing and performance. By focusing on positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment, leaders can create a work environment that fosters employee happiness, productivity, and engagement. Ultimately, this can lead to a more successful and profitable organisation – and a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled workforce.
So, let's PERMA-nently change the way we think about employee wellbeing and performance, one smile at a time.