How To Infuse Optimism In The Workplace For More Productive Work

In the age of mental health awareness, Millennials and Gen Zers are seeking more positive work environments, especially after many lost their jobs at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global disruption seemed to create an entirely new work culture. Remote and at-home work has become normalized, hybrid jobs are readily available, and taking a mental health day is now more acceptable. Employers seem to be responding to this new era by investing more in their staff's mental health and happiness. Some are trialing four-day work weeks, while others have permanently decided to implement the initiative (via Newsweek). So, how can we all make for a more optimistic work culture so that we're no longer feeling the Sunday Scaries? It's going to take a village.

Verywell Mind defines optimism as a "mental attitude characterized by hope and confidence in a positive future." Optimists see the world as a learning experience and setbacks as temporary. It differs from toxic positivity, which encourages the denial of negative emotions or experiences (via Psychology Today). When used in the workplace, it's been shown to increase productivity, engagement, and overall wellbeing.

Lead with infectious positivity

You know that person who is always having a bad day? Next thing you know, you're having a bad day just sitting next to them. It's important to have boundaries with negative talk. Optimism starts with clear and hopeful communication. It sets the tone for your day and puts you in the control seat (via LinkedIn). 

It also makes you an incredibly valuable team member for bringing positive energy to the table. You may notice your coworkers initiating communication more and also wanting to tackle projects together. Optimism has a superpower of creating higher motivation and inspiration.

Recognize the unique value of each team member

Feeling valued is crucial to any relationship, especially when you are putting in hard work. It's important for employees to feel that their contributions are valuable, unique, and appreciated. In doing so, it also highlights the strengths of each individual. No one is perfect, but everyone has distinctive assets and talents that contribute to the broader team spirit. 

Recognition for these skill sets can hugely impact an employee or coworker, especially when sincere and personalized (via Forbes). Genuine praise is also authentic, so don't dish out fake compliments for the sake of optimism. Instead, build the habit of giving people their flowers when they deserve them.

Trust in your team by emphasizing hope

Like recognition, trust builds a more motivated and productive team. The more others are included in decision-making, the more welcomed and fully supported they feel (via Limeade). Distrust, however, creates a fear-based mentality and, thus, toxicity in the workplace. If you are new at the job or have new coworkers, one way to build trust is to have an optimistic hope for your success. By training your mind to think positively, you are then able to communicate your belief in a prosperous future.

Don't make assumptions or take things personally

The workplace can be an incredibly sensitive environment because no one wants their work frowned upon or perceived as inadequate. So, when confronted with criticism, ask questions and don't make assumptions (via Business News Daily). It's essential not to take things personally at work when constructive criticism is aimed to boost productivity, not hinder it. Assuming that professional critiques are an attack on your character is a negative turn down the rabbit hole. Keep it professional and handle reviews with grace.

Celebrate the little wins and count the silver linings

With every work week bringing new challenges, it's nearly impossible to go without some difficulties. Optimists focus on what they can control and their past successes. Creating this habit leads to greater benefits in every aspect of your life. According to Fast Company, optimism is one of the seven habits of highly effective people because they focus on their sphere of influence and find a silver lining in every situation.

This behavioral habit not only reinforces productivity while at work but subconsciously reprograms your mind altogether. According to a recent Limeade study, those who practice optimism in their daily lives have less stress and higher levels of overall well-being. So perhaps practicing positivity in the workplace is just a testing ground for mirroring it in everyday life.