The 10 most common positive emotions that increase employee engagement


Barbara L. Fredrickson PhD is a leading scholar within social psychology, affective science and positive psychology, and has been studying and advancing the science of positive emotions for more than 20 years. Among her many achievements and honours, Fredrickson is most recognised for her “broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions”. 

The 10 most common positive emotions that increase employee engagement

Her research and the basis of her book, Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life, explains that for us to thrive in life – which Cambridge Dictionary defines as to growdevelop or be successful – we must have three positive emotional experiences for every one negative emotional experience.

In addition to ‘feeling good’, the experience of positive emotions broadens our mind, increases creativity and makes us more resourceful and resilient towards things like stress. This, in turn, positively affects all areas of our life including our satisfaction at work, our social connections, productivity and more. Just imagine what positive emotions do when it comes to employee engagement.

Dr Fredrickson identified 10 of the most common positive emotions. Below are examples of how these positive emotions can be experienced in the workplace and how they can increase workplace wellbeing.

1. Joy

A way to experience joy in the workplace could be gathering the team and celebrating every time a sale is made. It could be recognising and publicly acknowledging employees’ efforts. Additionally, joy could be experienced through work social opportunities, such as sports teams and after work events.

2. Gratitude

Gratitude in the workplace could be thanking a colleague when they help you with a task, being thankful that you get to use your skills at work, or just being grateful that you have a job which enables you to live comfortably.

3. Serenity

At work, serenity is remaining calm under pressure. Serenity is perhaps the ultimate state of engagement, where one experiences a sense of flow.

4. Interest

In our blog How Curiosity Creates Happiness in the Workplace we explain how curiosity can lead us to discover new skills, new ideas and new interests, as well as improve our memory and our connection to our colleagues. This could mean being interested and engaged in an idea, a concept, or a project, which then opens our mind to new strategies, solutions and ideas.

5. Hope

Hope is perhaps the greatest form of optimism – a key characteristic for employee wellbeing. Hope pushes us forward and keeps us going. At work, hope can mean that, despite any setbacks or criticism, we believe things will improve and we will be successful in what we set out to achieve.

6. Pride

It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments, especially when you succeed in doing something you thought was unattainable, exceed expectations or achieve something which took a lot of time and effort.

Pride at work could mean recognising that you led your team well, acknowledging your own worth and contribution, and patting yourself on the back for a job well done.

7. Amusement

The saying that you shouldn’t take life too serious also applies to the workplace. When it comes to workplace wellbeing, feeling connected to our colleagues is vital. And what better way than to share a laugh and see the humour in things? It’s equally important that we can laugh at ourselves, including for any mistakes we may have made.

8. Inspiration

Inspiration as a result of witnessing something that sparks your interest, moves you deeply or makes your heart sing, can lead to innovation, increased focus, greater motivation and even a state of flow. Among its countless benefits, inspiration in the workplace can help build and motivate teams, increase employee engagement, formulate new strategies or conceptualise new ideas.

9. Awe

At work, awe could be taking a step back to look at what your team has achieved and taking in the magnificence of their work. Awe can, in turn, also lead to inspiration. For example, being in awe of a colleague’s abilities or characteristics could inspire you to do the same, pushing you beyond what you thought was capable.

10. Love

When it comes to positive emotions, there is none more powerful than love. When we experience love, we feel connection and elation.

Of these positive emotions, which have you experienced in the workplace recently, and how have they increased your engagement and wellbeing? Want to learn more about how employee wellbeing contributes to employee engagement? Download your free copy of the eBook Employee Engagement: Unlocking Your Employees’ Potential.

This article is provided by Benify.

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