The dread of Monday morning and returning to work has become such a part of the average employee’s experience that the concept has become cliché. Working to change that seemingly universal expression of displeasure by creating a positive work environment has the power to not only improve the atmosphere, but also drive the business forward, encouraging innovation and productivity. In the spirit of March and 'expect success' month, here is what all professionals should know about the power of positive thinking in the workplace.
How positive thinking can impact business performance
When people start to think positively about themselves and their work environment, there are a few changes that quickly take place.
1. People find it easier to grasp new information. They are able to make connections faster, allowing them to tackle complex problems confidently and productively. This positive thinking leads to better decision making.
2. Those who are more positive also have more energy. They are less likely to feel lethargic and apathetic about their positions. They are also more resilient to failures. Think about Arianna Huffington, who was rejected by 36 different publishers for one of her books and had to withstand multiple negative reviews on the Huffington Post before it achieved its incredible success. This is an example of what the resilience of positive thinkers can accomplish.
3. One person thinking and acting positively can spread the sentiment across the company. This is one infectious agent that you want all of the employees in your organization to catch.
How to encourage positive thinking in the office environment
Now that you understand the value of positive thinking in your workplace, you need to focus on instituting policies that encourage it.
No matter how positive the environment, it will never run perfectly. There will be complaints that arise from time to time. The key to building a positive environment, however, is to regulate these complaints. Instead of just allowing people free reign to voice their displeasure, require them to put forth one or two proposals for correcting the problem that is causing their frustration. These suggestions will help to drive the company forward through innovation, instead of dragging it down through a negative attitude.
Encourage people to find meaning
When people feel as though the work they do has a higher purpose—beyond just meeting their quotas this month or fulfilling the demands of their job—they are more likely to appreciate it. Communicate regularly with employees about the goals and values of the organization and help them find their unique role in the group. Discuss what they contribute to the world through their support of the company’s brand in their everyday activities.
Allow regular breaks
People are more positive when they have the opportunity to take regular breaks for physical or leisure activities. This might mean extra coffee breaks or five minutes for a brisk walk outside. It could also mean yoga or a few minutes to stretch and decompress. These types of activities help to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the person to relax and slow their heart rate. After this type of engagement, people feel more optimistic and ready to tackle the work problems in front of them.
Encourage work-life balance
Stress can be a major factor in the satisfaction people have with their jobs. When employees feel continually squeezed from stress at work and at home, they often end up feeling burned out and do not perform well at the office. Encourage employees to have a good work-life balance in every way that is feasible operationally for the organization. Creating generous leave policies that allow for family responsibilities can be an important and valued benefit. Company leaders should model the behavior by taking advantage of these opportunities to create an atmosphere where taking care of oneself is both acceptable and encouraged.
The Monday morning blues do not have to be a part of your work environment, and cultivating a positive atmosphere around your organization can be a fantastic way to drive the business forward. Those looking for a way to improve the culture at their company should consider some of the above ideas and see how they can be incorporated into the company culture.