But clinical services director at AccessEAP, Marcela Slepica, says that positive psychology — and in particular strengths coaching — provides a way forward.
She said that recent research shows that managers account for up to 70 per cent of the variance in employee-engagement levels.
“One of the key findings was that strengths-based approaches to leadership almost doubled engagement, compared to more traditional management styles.
“Organisations with an engaged workforces [sic] have been shown to increase productivity by 21 per cent. What’s more, these companies have fewer negative outcomes with absenteeism reduced by 37 per cent and safety incidents lessened by as much as 48 per cent.”
Ms Slepica said strengths-based leadership in the field of positive psychology focuses on the core question: what is right with people?
“In the workplace, using this constructive approach can empower employees to better understand their own skills and motivate them to do their best work.”
She said that Virtues in Action (VIA) is a new approach to defining personal strengths. It charts 24 traits that fall within six categories.
Seeing things from a different perspective, looking at the big picture and the how or why things are done, as well as finding inventive solutions to problems are all signs of what VIA defines as Wisdom.
As a leader, it’s important to support these employees with opportunities to use their analytical mindset and creativity.
These employees say what’s on their mind, and value their authenticity, bravely sharing views that may be different to the majority if needed. Often determined and persistent, they are also often charismatic and hold sway with those around them.
This character strength is interesting when it comes to workplaces, as managers can often feel challenged by an employee with these traits. Consider thanking the employee for sharing their views and see if they can become involved in some collaborative solutions with other team members.
Emotionally attuned and compassionate, these employees are often recognised as being well-liked amongst their teams. They are inclined to creating harmony and are often the first to offer assistance to their colleagues.
Those with humanity traits demonstrate a double-edged side to character strengths. It is important to give roles working with people; however, they will need help keeping boundaries, as they are likely to give a lot, and care should be taken to prevent burnout.
With a strong sense of right and wrong, these employees draw heavily on their personal values and are often inclined to offer guidance to the group, whether or not they are in a leadership role. They also work well in groups with a clear understanding of everyone’s roles.
These employees do well in structured and process-oriented roles in team settings. When collaborating, this employee can create stability as a source of consistency and reliability for the team.
Positivity is a great indicator of transcendence traits. This employee will celebrate colleagues’ strengths, and take an optimistic view of people and the world around them. They interpret situations with good humour, seeing challenges as opportunities.
This employee’s strengths will be a great asset, particularly during difficult times, as you will find that they boost morale and can offer hope in even the most troubling circumstances.
Balanced, calm and collected, these employees appear unperturbed by situations, good and bad. With a string control over their emotions, these employees take a measured and considered approach, weighing up all risks before taking action.
Consideration takes time, so these employees are suited to slower-paced roles that require thought and in-depth knowledge, rather than swift decisive action. They may require regular check-ins to understand what they are thinking or feeling under their controlled exterior.