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Powerful Ways to Promote Workplace Optimism

By Shawn Murphy

You and your team deserve to enjoy work. The workplace should be a positive influence on people and their lives. Yet for too many it's just not the case. In one study, 48 percent of employees frequently feel a lot of stress in their work. This adversely affects their well-being. Boutique consultancy Root found that 68 percent of workers feel that their managers are more focused on their own success instead of inspiring their employees. The workplace has become lopsided -- too much negativity and not enough optimism.

I've written about workplace optimism here and here and here. In short, though, it is a mood in the environment that gives people hope that good things can come from their work. Furthermore, people have meaningful relationships and work that fulfill basic needs.

So what, then, can a leader do to cultivate such a vibe? Let's take a look at some actionable ways to find some balance in the lopsided workplace.

1. Repair the Relationship With Employees

For too long hierarchy has characterized the leader-employee role. This has prevented many leaders from learning about their employees' aspirations, strengths, interests or family life.

Family life is important here. Work influences a person's family life. Most do not "turn off" work when they go home for the day. The stressors of the day linger, work emails beckon and project deadlines loom. A powerful way to repair the relationship between you and your employee is to pay attention and do something about how the workplace affects your team's family life.

2. Help Employees Find Purpose

Entrepreneur Aaron Hurst wrote in The Purpose Economy that "[purpose] is fundamentally fueled by our pursuit of the fulfillment of [connection and self-expression.]"

While most of us are familiar with understanding the organization's purpose, it's not enough. Optimistic workplaces encourage employees to uncover their own purpose.

The savvy leader harnesses this enthusiasm, the passion, to help people grow into who they are. While the Industrial Age leader may see this as "fluffy," today's leader recognizes that self-expression can be good for business.

Gallup has found that self-expression is a positive outcome when engagement, productivity and personal well-being are part of a person's work experience. Gallup goes on to explain "focusing on that means working towards a more prosperous world -- and perhaps a safer one."

Helping employees find purpose in their work and personal life is key to workplace optimism. The place to start with this is ensuring you spend time learning about your employees aspirations and goals, taking you back to the first item listed here.

3. Focus on Developing Your Employees

While this may seem obvious, it's not done enough. Sending people off to training is hardly the only solution. How do you integrate what was learned into the employee's development plan? What on-the-job assignments are you lining up for your employee to deepen her knowledge, strengths and abilities? And just as important, develop your employees by leveraging her strengths -- work that energizes. Training is rarely the only solution to developing your employees.

The three items listed above are great starts to cultivating an environment marked by optimism. It takes persistence and a passion for people to thrive in their life, both at work and home. This shift in perspective is key to promote workplace optimism.

About the Author:
Owner and principal consultant at Achieved Strategies. Co-founder of SwitchandShift.com. Shawn works with managers to help them create workplace optimism to help make the workplace a source of fulfillment and joy. This means helping managers learn to help employees find purpose and meaning in work to add value to the organization, employees, and ultimately to customers. Connect with Shawn on LinkedIn and on Twitter @shawmu.