YouBeauty's happiness guru and a professional business consultant, Matthew Della Porta, Ph.D., shares his expertise in workplace wellness and how to get the most out of your 9-to-5.
Do you stand proudly behind where you work? Or are you resentful toward your company, feeling tense and bitter? If the latter case best describes how you feel on the job, take note: There is a way you and your co-workers can feel engaged and productive in the workplace while minimizing your stress and frustration.
Through autonomy support, employees thrive in a work environment that encourages enthusiastic job performance without an undercurrent of pressure or coercion. Rather than relying on others to feel motivated, you are given the necessary conditions to motivate yourself.
Autonomy support happens when employees are given meaningful choices while doing their work, clear explanations for why their jobs are important, and are shown empathy for how they feel1. Employees in this ideal work environment approach their daily tasks with interest, enjoyment and encouragement.
Unfortunately, many people feel controlled and pressured at work. Research has shown that harsh workplace policies, such as threats of punishment, are quite ineffective; they are associated with low morale, defiance and resentment from employees2. In this day and age, your organization can't stay competitive by dangling a carrot in front of you. Today's most innovative workplaces throw away the carrot and create an atmosphere in which you can earnestly approach your work with eagerness and true zest.
The ideal workplace that I'm describing may sound like a fantasy, but you can make autonomy support a part of your workplace by following the three steps below.
1. Look for Choice
Don't assume that you have no meaningful choices in your job. Carefully examine your day-to-day routine and you may find options that you've come to take for granted. For example, if you are asked to write a report, you may be able to choose the best way to format or present it, which gives you freedom to be creative and cater to your own preferences. Even with mandatory tasks, you can let your opinions shine through.
1. Deci, E. L., Eghrari, H., Patrick, B. C., & Leone, D. (1994). Facilitating internalization: The self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality, 62, 119-142. 2. Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 627–668.
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