Learning & Development

Training Employees to Be Positive

Employee engagement is key to boosting productivity and morale, and it can be encouraged through a number of means. For example, we’ve written previously about employee preferences for working at a company that is serving the greater good. This preference is especially true among younger generations.positive
But let’s start a bit more fundamentally. What about your employee’s level of general happiness? Whether someone’s job is building homes for the less fortunate or fastening shoelace tips, he or she can have a positive or a negative attitude toward his or her work. That impacts his or her morale and level of engagement as well as those of all coworkers.

Training Our Brains for Positivity

Loretta Breuning, PhD, and author, argues that we can train our brains to think more positively. It’s an exercise that any employer could seek to promote within its organization, and it’s not extremely difficult. Breuning explains that our brains are trained to find negatives based on our evolution.
“Our brain evolved to scan for problems and it is skilled at finding problems when it looks,” she says. “We have inherited the brain that helped our ancestors notice threats in time to act. We are skilled at finding threats, even as we seek rewards.”

Positivity Circuit

Breuning recommends what she calls “building a positivity circuit.” To do this, she says, spend 1 minute looking for positives in your life and your surroundings three times per day for 45 days. She says this trains the brain to look for positives the way it is already trained to look for negatives.
You can do these easily by setting up alerts to prompt yourself to think positive thoughts at critical points throughout the day. You know yourself and your thinking patterns best. Give yourself a nudge when it’s time for a positivity boost!

PARE Your Negativity

PARE stands for Personal Agency and Realistic Expectation. “Personal Agency is the pleasure of choosing your next step,” says Breuning. “You can never predict the results of your efforts but you always get to choose the next step toward meeting your needs.”
Realistic Expectations are the alternatives that you generated when those negative brain hormones—i.e., cortisol—surge. In other words, PARE refers to the process of taking control over your situation and coming up with a realistic strategy to get from the negative place you may be in to a more positive place.
We know employees want to find purpose and fulfillment in their jobs, but not every company or every employee is going to be drastically changing the world for the better.
Being engaged at work is about attitude, and employees can be trained to bring the right attitude to work just as they can be trained to write status reports and operate a piece of equipment.