What does it mean for people to be thriving?

Something that is thriving is doing very well. When it comes to ensuring that people thrive, American Psychologist, Dr Martin Seligman, who is credited as being the father of Positive Psychology, formulated the PERMA™ theory of wellbeing – a scientifically based attempt to benchmark what it is to thrive. In his model there are five building blocks that enable flourishing (or thriving). These are Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.

The Benefits of Working for a Thriving Organisation

Can the PERMA™ model be applied to organisations?

PERMA, as a model for thriving is applicable to both individuals and organisations. An organisation and its people live in symbiosis in that the level of wellbeing experienced by each employee adds to the positive atmosphere within the workplace. In turn, a positive workplace influences the level of happiness of its employees and helps them to thrive.

The PERMA Model can be consciously applied in the workplace to foster a positive work environment – one that will result in a happy and productive workforce.

Here are five examples of PERMA™ in action:

1. Rewarding employees and recognising excellent work builds POSITIVE EMOTIONS
Recognition and reward boosts motivation and helps to instill a sense of camaraderie and purpose at work. Recognition should not only be aimed at individuals, but also at teams and their managers. Peer recognition among colleagues is also a powerful motivator. Managers should model and enable employee recognition of each other’s hard work in a meaningful way.

2. Creating a collaborative environment is essential for ENGAGING
Employers can focus on creating meaningful connections by providing colleagues with opportunities to spend time together informally in the workplace.  For example, offering regular group lunches or coffee breaks can help create an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual trust. On a more formal note, employers should be willing to engage employees by listening to employee feedback, ideas and suggestions then acting on them. It serves employee engagement to provide a safe space for people to speak up without fear of judgment or repercussion.

3. It is important for leaders and managers to consciously build healthy, productive RELATIONSHIPS with employees.
One of the most essential elements of a boss-employee relationship is trust. So is open and honest communication. Open, two-way communication provides a platform for understanding employees’ opinions, how they feel and what their needs are. Good boss-employee relationships form the bedrock of a good company culture.

4. An organisation should not only strive to be profitable, but also to have a MEANINGFUL IMPACT on the society in which it functions. Each organisation has a purpose – a fundamental reason the organisation exists. MEANINGFUL WORKcan also play a part in employees who thrive. This is characterised by duties that resonate with an individual’s values, passions and purpose which impart a sense of significance to their contributions. According to a survey, commissioned by software company Workhuman* in 2019, surveying more than 3,500 workers of all age groups in the United States, Canada, Ireland and Britain found that meaningful work outranks compensation, perks and other factors.

5. Employee development links employee ACCOMPLISHMENTS to success.
Employee success is often propelled forward by an organisations commitment to effective professional development. And employee development can be a bridge between individual achievement and organisational success. If you want a workforce that is engaged, motivated and thriving, then it is important to prioritise career development and progression for your employees. This entails the ongoing process of providing learning, reskilling and skills acquisition along with career advancement.

The dangers of un-thriving

A recent study by Gallup found that engaged but not thriving employees are more vulnerable and at risk of various wellbeing and productivity-related issues.

This report observes the following:

Comparing employees who are engaged but not thriving with those who are engaged and thriving, those in the former group report the following risks:

  • 61% higher likelihood of burnout often or always
  • 48% higher likelihood of daily stress
  • 66% higher likelihood of daily worry
  • double the rate of daily sadness and anger

Thriving employees have 53% fewer missed days due to health issues. Suffering and struggling employees have a substantially higher disease burden due to diagnoses of depression and anxiety, among others.

Leaders need to play an active role in creating a workplace where employees can thrive. Yet, those in leadership positions are, themselves, often operating from a place that is not thriving. In order for employees to thrive it is essential to cultivate thriving leaders. To do so will entail designing leadership development strategies that are deeply connected to their purpose, inspiration and wellbeing. Today’s organisations need to re-examine their approach to cultivating future leaders who thrive, possibly with a view to introducing new approaches and systems that enable a more vibrant workplace as a whole.

Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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