We spend more time working than doing anything else (except sleeping).¹ In Oregon, we think you should enjoy your time at work. Heck, we think you should want to come to work. In the Chief Human Resources Office, it’s our job to carry out this task; to make Oregon State Government a place where you come for a job, stay for a career, and make a difference for a lifetime.
Thus, we researched evidence-based practices for creating an organization that helps employees to flourish. The research was clear: Practicing Positivity was the answer.
What is Positivity?
Practicing Positivity means encouraging evidence-based organizational practices and individual activities that create a generative business setting and enhance human development. These positive practices are varied in content – ranging from managers encouraging their employees’ strengths to telling a joke at a team meeting. As illustrated in the figure to the right, Practicing Positivity includes a variety of programs and processes, such as Kindness, Humor, Creativity, Innovation, Teamwork, Strengths, Meditation, Resilience, Mindfulness, etc.
This shift in the conversation has the potential to impact the employee, the team, the agency, and the State of Oregon. Key people-related outcomes from other organizations include:
- Practicing positivity by going through a resiliency training can decrease stress by 19%.²
- Employees with an empathetic manager have less somatic complaints (e.g. fatigue, upset stomach, headache, etc).³
- Applying humor for a week can increase happiness levels for six months.⁴
- A brief, strengths-based development program can increase employee productivity by 6%.⁵
What Will Positivity Look Like in Oregon State Government?
In order to facilitate Positivity, the Chief Human Resources Office has created a Positivity Project. The goal of this project is (1) to teach employees about Positivity – both the science behind Positivity and how to infuse Positivity into the work environment, (2) to encourage and implement Positivity Organizational Practices, and, here’s the big one, (3) to generate a Positivity shift. This shift will look like any other change; it will slowly invade our meetings, our conversations, and the way we treat one another. You might notice it on a small scale: receiving an unexpected kudos on a project or someone sharing their umbrella when it rains. You might notice it on a grander scale: positivity ambassadors at your agency, kindness challenges for state employees, or, if you didn’t already, starting to love where you work.
Where and How Will the Positivity Project Enhance Workplace Culture?
The Positivity Project is Housed under the Chief Human Resources Office for the Department of Administrative Services. The initial Positivity Project will be spread through Human Resource departments at state agencies.
As part of the initial launch, you will see the Positivity Project at leadership meetings (e.g. HR Directors, Enterprise Leadership Team and All Agency Directors) and subject matter meetings (e.g. the statewide Classification and Compensation meeting). The majority of communication around the Positivity Project will be disseminated through listservs and the Positivity Project website.
Through these avenues, positive activities will be performed and resources will be shared for individuals to consider implementing at their agency. Furthermore, the Chief Human Resources Office will be examining its organizational practices to see what practices could be made more effective by utilizing evidence-based positive organizational practices.
1. American Time Use Survey – 2018 Results. (2019) Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Released June 19, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf
2. Sood, A., Prasad, K., Schroeder, D., & Varkey, P. (2011). Stress management and resilience training among Department of Medicine faculty: a pilot randomized clinical trial. Journal of general internal medicine, 26(8), 858-861.
3. Scott, B. A., Colquitt, J. A., Paddock, E. L., & Judge, T. A. (2010). A daily investigation of the role of manager empathy on employee well-being. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 113(2), 127-140.
4. Wellenzohn, S., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2016). Humor-based online positive psychology interventions: a randomized placebo-controlled long-term trial. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11(6), 584-594.
5. Hodges, T. D., & Clifton, D. O. (2004). Strengths-based development in practice. Positive psychology in practice, 1, 256-268.