Are your people flourishing or languishing?

Want to build greater job satisfaction and commitment in your team? Then you need to ensure everyone feels connected and engaged. These are just two of five factors that help people flourish at work. When this happens, the organisation blossoms and the people within it are engaged and motivated to succeed.  

So what is flourishing and how can you build an organisational culture in which everyone thrives? In positive psychology, flourishing refers to more than just increased happiness or well-being. It means finding fulfilment in life. This includes developing meaningful relationships and accomplishing worthwhile tasks 

The concept of flourishing has been extensively researched by positive psychology researcher, Martin Seligman. He developed the PERMA model to help people flourish and thrive. This model is used by positive psychology trainers and educators across the world. PERMA stands for five factors which contribute to human wellbeing.  

  • Positive emotions 
  • Engagement 
  • Relationships 
  • Meaning 
  • Accomplishments 

When the PERMA conditions are absent, people are more likely to languish than to thrive.  Languishing refers to a state where someone feels empty or hollow. Employees that languish may feel that their work has no purpose or direction. Although all their physical needs are met, they are not fully content. Those that flourish are very different. They feel a sense of purpose and engagement – they believe their work contributes to something important.  

Corey Keyes developed criteria for measuring and diagnosing the flourishing state in individuals. According to Keyes, to fully thrive, you need to have high emotional, psychological and social well-being. Psychologists also suggest that resilience, personal growth, self-determination, vitality, optimism, self-acceptance and purpose are also essential ingredients of a flourishing life.  

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No matter how you define this state and the characteristics that lead to it, there are several ways to promote flourishing at work. Here are some behaviours that positive psychology trainers suggest you embed into your daily work habits.  

  • Show appreciation for hard work and provide strength-focused feedback 
  • Help develop people’s strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses 
  • Build trust within a team by giving individuals more control over decisions 
  • Cultivate a natural sense of curiosity and mindfulness within the team 
  • Encourage employees to volunteer in their spare time  

Accomplishment is a major component of flourishing. To promote a flourishing state within an organisation, give individuals tasks they can reasonably accomplish. Work with a positive psychology trainer to design workplace systems that connect work to a higher purpose. Focus on building a positive organisational culture and you will soon start to notice an increase in team morale and happiness. 

About the author of this article: 

Eleanor Shakiba is trainer for professionals in high intellect fields. Her expertise is in using positive psychology to build high performing leaders and teams. Eleanor works with trainers and HR specialists to build exceptional organisations and people. She is the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D practitioners. She also runs a range of retreats and workshops for trainers and facilitators.