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Sunil Ramlall - Building Positive Workplaces

Updated on July 1, 2015

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship among key issues discussed in positive organizational behavior (POB) and the implications for organizational success. One of the key outcomes of this paper is to have a better understanding of the relationship between work and a person’s broader purpose of existence, and how work helps to accomplish one’s purpose of life. In addition, quantitative measures are used to determine the relationship between work and happiness; a positive organizational culture and firm performance; and positive employee characteristics and employee performance. Through various statistical analyses, positive relationships were found among typical measures of positive psychology, positive organizational behavior, and employee performance. Implications for organizations and utilizations of research findings to create sustainable competitive advantages are discussed.

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Given the continuous pursuit of developing and implementing strategies to maximize organizational effectiveness, organizations are studying and more frequently beginning to utilize theories and concepts from the positive organizational scholarship (POS). POS provides opportunities for understanding the impact of organizational strategies on human behavior in the workplace, and why some strategies and dynamic capabilities may be more generative than others (Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003). This is especially relevant as positive psychology has flourished in the last 5 years (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005). It may come as a surprise to learn that companies in which the focus is on amplifying positive attributes (e.g., loyalty, resilience, trustworthiness, humility, compassion), rather than combating the negatives, perform better, financially and otherwise (Fryer, 2004).

Positive psychology has emerged and gained momentum as an approach that redirects focus from what is wrong with people or organizations toward one that emphasizes human strengths that allow individuals, groups, and organizations to thrive and prosper. The overall goal of positive psychology is to create organized systems that actualize human potential (Peterson & Spiker, 2005). Therefore, the present paper explores the relationship among key issues discussed in positive organizational behavior and the implications for organizational success.

Positive organizational behavior (POB) is defined by Luthans (2003) as the “study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today’s workplace” (p. 178). One of the key outcomes of this paper is to have a better understanding of the relationship between work and a person’s broader purpose of existence, and how work helps to accomplish one’s purpose of life. In addition, quantitative measures are used to determine the relationship between work and happiness; a positive organizational culture and firm performance; and positive employee characteristics and employee performance.

It is indeed critical to ask, How does work enable one to experience such feelings as happiness, gratification, satisfaction, and fulfillment? At the same time, there is a great need to understand how and why organizational strategies impact employees’ behaviors and attitudes and influence such positive outcomes as the ones listed by Seligman (2002a, 2002b).

Positive psychology is a science of positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions that promise to improve quality of life (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Searching for new ways to compete and to be employers of choice, the implications for organizations are endless. The implications are not only for organizations, but also are directed to individuals. Rath and Clifton (2004) suggested that we all have a “bucket” within us that needs to be filled with positive experiences (e.g., recognition, praise). Furthermore, these authors stressed that when we treat others in a positive manner, we will not only fill others’ buckets, but fill ours as well.


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