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Building a positive culture in the workplace, Part 4

Productivity. Teamwork. Happiness. Wellbeing.

These are all things we want in any workplace.

When we find ourselves in a work environment that embodies these attributes, we thrive. Creativity soars. Collaboration takes place more regularly and does so at enhanced levels. Team members build health relationships with each other and thereby make the workplace enjoyable.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing building a positive culture based on respected positive psychologist Martin Seligman’s PERMA model, which was widely published in his influential book “Flourish” in 2011.

PERMA is an acronym with each letter representing one of five fundamental pillars essential in feeling well-being and positivity in the workplace. Thus far, we have discussed the following pillars:

P: Positivity (read here)

E: Engagement (read here)

R: Relationships (read here)

Today, we continue with our series and discuss the ‘M’ in PERMA, which stands for: Meaning.

We all want to feel a sense of meaning and purpose in our day-to-day work life. We want to feel that what we does matter; that what we are contributing plays a central part in the ‘bigger picture’. In our personal lives, we may derive a sense of meaning from our beliefs, from our connection with loved ones, or from supporting a specific cause.

Just as well, it’s necessary to derive a similar meaning in the workplace, which is why leaders must empower their team members to see the deeper layers in their work. Understanding how your work benefits others, how it’s valuable in the grand scheme of things, and how you are an essential member of the team increases an individual’s well-being and overall satisfaction with a job.

So how do we do this?

  1. Know Yourself. This is to say that it’s vital to understand your strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, and preferred style of working. It’s incredible the amount of people who are placed in a position that simply doesn’t match their unique design as a person. As a result, it’s not long before these workers become frustrated, underwhelmed, and disenchanted with their job. It’s hard to be thrilled about something that’s too challenging for you (or, too easy). Just as well, for those who thrive within a team setting, being isolated at a lonely desk can result in poor work quality. As a leader, it’s crucial to lead your team members in greater self-awareness. The better the match between preferences and job requirements, the greater the potential for job satisfaction and better work ethic.
  2.  Balance. It’s important that a professional life not bleed into your personal life. When work starts to eat into our lives, it’s easy to resent it and lose your sense of purpose, which will then lead to major oversights and an unwillingness to give 100% to projects. However, when the different areas of your life are in perfect balance, it leads to a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment. As a leader, occasionally encourage your team members to examine the various areas in their life via a ‘Wheel of Life’(as seen here). This exercise offers a visual representation of any imbalances in your life and allows you to then take action.
  3. Find Meaning. Even the most mundane of tasks have an underlying purpose. If you’re struggling to find the ‘greater good’ in your work, then it may behoove you to revisit your company’s mission purpose and vision statements. How does what you do relate to those statements? As a leader, you can help your team members make a connection to a company’s unique selling proposition, goals, and/or values. For example, the popular home retail store IKEA has the following purpose statement: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.” A web designer does this by creating a user-friendly website that’s easy for customers to navigate. A customer service representative does this by helping customers over the phone who want more information about certain products. An on-the-floor salesperson does this by answering a customer’s questions and helping them to decide on the best furnishings for their lifestyle. So in what ways do each of your team members fulfill your company’s unique vision? Getting to the heart of it may very well be what your team needs to feel inspirited and encouraged.


Excel in these three action steps and you’ll not only thrive as a leader but also build a team of workers who are finding the meaning in their daily work and deriving well-being from it as a result.

Next week, we’ll discuss the final pillar in the PERMA model: Accomplishment/Achievement.

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