Is the use of strengths as powerful as we might think? What are the factors that matter? | The Oxford Review

Is the use of strengths as powerful as we might think? What are the factors that matter?

Research Briefing

Keywords: Character, signature strengths, well-being, organisational behaviour, trait affect, job satisfaction, job strain

Many organisations today recognise the benefits of leveraging the positive qualities of employees, as well as minimising any problematic areas. Research in the field of positive organisational scholarship suggests this approach is well placed, with positive outcomes being seen from the development of employees’ strengths, maximising positive emotional states, and encouraging flourishing. In particular, the use of signature strengths at work has been associated with a variety of positive outcomes over the long term.

Character strengths

Character strengths can be defined as individual differences in universally recognised and valued positive traits, that are reflected in particular ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. Whilst there is ongoing debate over the number of character strengths, research conducted in 2004 identified 24 universally valued strengths clustered under six higher-level virtues (Figure 1). There is evidence that these 24 strengths apply across cultures. Higher levels of character strengths have been positively linked to pleasure, meaning, and engagement. They are also associated with an enhanced ability to cope with stress. Further research has shown links between specific strengths and outcomes, such as the strength of perseverance and self-reported performance.

This research briefing will be useful for anyone involved in Human Resources, Human Capital and Human Resource Management and anyone interested in the impact using employees signature strengths has in the workplace.

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