Workplaces contribute a great deal to whether or not people flourish, and related social capital. They can exacerbate risk factors for poor mental health, for instance, via work-related stress. On the other hand, research has found that when employee health and wellness is well-managed and promoted, stress reduces, mental health outcomes improve, and the percentage of engaged employees increases from 7% to 55%. A workplace that promotes flourishing – one that fosters good mental health, connection between colleagues, and encourages healthy lifestyles – creates a happier and more productive workforce. Flourishing people – at home, in our networks, and at work – can have a powerful knock-on effect in our broader communities.
What does flourishing mean?
Flourishing basically means thriving or, you could say, booming. Positive Psychology Professor Martin Seligman has put forward five factors he believes may help people achieve this level of wellbeing:
- Feeling good – Experiencing happiness, joy, hope, love, gratitude etc.
- Being engaged – Capitalising on strengths to experience momentum and immersion in life and work.
- Building positive relationships – Having strong, supportive social networks with family, friends, workmates etc.
- Finding meaning – Connecting to values and a purpose in life.
- Creating, pursuing and achieving goals – Planning for the future to help people anticipate and build hope for the years to come.
According to Seligman, once people attune themselves to the elements of wellbeing listed above, instead of focusing on happiness alone, they have a framework to help them flourish in life – and be happier as a result! In writing about his PERMA model, Seligman refers to these five factors as the gold standard for gauging wellbeing. To hear more about the model, have a look at Bupa’s general wellbeing video on youtube.
Happiness at work matters
Working out how you can support your employees to introduce or better integrate wellbeing factors into their lives can help you establish a stronger foundation for happiness and this can make your people more resilient to hardship.
There are many simple actions you can take to start to make a difference in this way. Even small things can potentially bring about positive changes. And while you and your employees will no doubt experience barriers to happiness, it’s comforting to know that we can all learn practical strategies to help increase wellbeing – and potentially make others happier too.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Encourage your workforce to make a conscious effort to smile more at the people with whom they interact throughout each day.
- Get your employees to share the three best things about their work and the people around them.
- Take 5 minutes together to reflect on the greater purpose of what you do together – as individuals, as a team, and as an organisation.
Bupa Wellness is committed to help you, as employers, provide a place where people love to work and where they are healthier AND happier because they work there. We encourage you to reframe happiness and take some time to see what opportunities may help you and your employees to truly flourish!
Australian Government. Comcare. Benefits to business: the evidence for investing in worker health and wellbeing [Online] 2011 [Accessed Mar 2016] Available from: www.comcare.gov.au
McCarthy, J. How to have a PERMA-vacation! [Online] 2013 [Accessed Mar 2016] Available from: www.psychologyofwellbeing.com
Mind Tools. The PERMA Model: Bringing well-being and happiness to your life [Online; accessed Mar 2016] Available from: www.mindtools.com
Positive Psychology Melbourne. The PERMA model: Well-being theory [Online; accessed Mar 2016] Available from: www.positivepsychologymelbourne.com.au
Seligman, MEP. Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Free Press; 2012.
The Happiness Institute. Happiness actions – 5 things to do at work [Online; accessed Mar 2015] Previously available from: www.dayofhappiness.com.au