Social Recognition: Positive expression v Hierarchy

I think you would agree that we are all free to think positively and express that positivity. You’d probably also think every business leader with an interest in profit would have done everything possible to remove any obstacle that stops employees being positive in the workplace. No brainer, right?

Actually, wrong.

Employee recognition is nothing more than a positive thought that has gone on to be an expression. However, for many organisations giving recognition is still a manager-only activity. Why?

Well, historically recognition and reward have been treated as the same thing and “employees don’t give rewards”. (Actually, they do. Micro bonus recognition models are becoming increasingly popular – see Workstars for more on that). Then along comes social recognition: an unadulterated positive expression with little need for hierarchy except to manage reward.

Is it a surprise then that social recognition is becoming the norm? No, not really. Organisations are dependent on creating a predominantly positive workforce. Their office environments, culture, staff turnover and relationships partly depend on this intangible key ingredient that no amount of money can buy.  Social recognition is just a tool that helps organisations nurture and encourage that positivity.

Hopefully, I have convinced you… however, I have this sneaky feeling there are HR leaders still struggling with directors and managers who like things just the way they are.

So here are 20 stand-out, bite-sized nuggets of positivity research to highlight the importance of positivity for our wellbeing and the workplace, and that demonstrates why every employee should be participating in positive expression.

1. Positivity increases the potential for success

Positivity prevents us from getting into a destructive cycle of building up negative self-images. Positive thoughts empower us to shape our thoughts and feelings in such a way that it increases our potential for success.

2. It can fix any damage done

Not only does positivity counterbalance negativity; research suggests it can effectively repair some of the damage done by negative emotions arising from difficult situations.

3. Positivity = better health

This research looked at 150 wellbeing studies and concluded positivity improves wellbeing which in turn improves health. What better reason do you need to help positivity thrive in your workplace?

4. It might even mean you live longer

Positivity doesn’t just improve health day-to-day. A convent might be considered one of the more unusual workplaces out there – but this study of nuns (yes, honestly) suggests that positivity, particularly earlier on in life, can actually increase lifespan.

5. It can create compassion

There’s evidence that a positive mindset can foster greater compassion and a more open-minded approach towards other people. This study revealed far greater levels of cross-cultural empathy from subjects who displayed greater levels of positive thinking.

6. Positivity enhances social connectedness

Sincere positive emotional behaviour, behaviour that clearly indicates to others how someone is feeling, has been shown to grow social connectedness.

7. It encourages feelings of satisfaction in work

Positivity can create feelings of greater self-efficacy and confidence, and within the workplace that can lead to greater levels of work satisfaction.

8. Positivity leads to resilience

Positive emotions have been shown to be associated with greater levels of resilience – and one can feed the other too.

9. It offers ways to cope more effectively with life’s challenges

Part of our understanding of resilience has come from studying the role of positivity in coping in the face of difficulties. Studies show positivity is linked to a more regular use of an array of coping strategies such as planning and positive reframing.

10. Positivity can increase levels of trust

Studies have found a connection between how positive individuals are feeling and how likely they are to develop trust in others. This doesn’t mean positive moods can render people more gullible though – when there were cues built in to signal untrustworthiness, they were picked up on.

11. It grows greater self-esteem

A positive approach to life can increase levels of self-esteem – which in itself can then lead to a whole host of benefits.

12. Stress management reactions become more effective

Evidence indicates positive emotions can moderate a person’s reactivity to stress. On top of that, they can also assist with recovery from stress.

13. It can make you more creative

When you feel positive, you are more likely to be creative with your problem-solving. That’s good news for any workplace that prizes innovation.

14. Positivity can encourage altruistic behaviour

Giving and positivity seem to have a reciprocal relationship. By giving you can enhance your feelings of wellbeing and happiness. And when you feel happier, you’re more likely to give.

15. It enables people to become effective decision-makers

It seems that feeling good can encourage people to make decisions more quickly and efficiently – and it didn’t impair the quality of those decisions either.

16. It encourages intrinsic motivation

Feeling good fosters intrinsic motivation, the desire to achieve because something is satisfying in itself rather than for any direct reward. Even better, the study suggests it doesn’t mean the less enjoyable but equally as important work gets neglected either.

17. Nurture organisational citizenship in work

Positive emotions have been shown to increase organisational citizenship and the likelihood of being supportive of change in the workplace. They can also reduce levels of cynicism too.

18. Positivity leads to self-improvement

Do you want to encourage a mindset of self-improvement at work? Then encourage positivity because research reveals it plays a role in motivating people to engage in behaviours that lead to self-improvement.

19. Enhance the customer experience

If you’re interested in making the customer experience a good one, do everything you can to help your employees be genuinely positive while interacting with them. It’s been shown to increase loyalty.

20. Value micro-moments of positivity

How come some people can flourish even in quite tough circumstances, yet others struggle? Part of the explanation could be down to the way some people can ‘self- generate’ positive emotions simply from taking pleasure in simple, everyday activities and gestures.

What can you do in your business to encourage those micro-moments?