“Other People Matter” at Work, says recent Meta-Analysis

woman_tattoo_smilingDo you like the people you´re working with? Do you identify strongly with that group of human beings? Do you even feel that you belong to the larger system of the organization you´re working for? If the answer is yes: Good for you! Because most likely, this will be beneficial for your psychological and physiological health in the long run.

A recent meta-analysis by Niklas K. Steffens (University of Queensland, Brisbane) and colleagues concludes that

both workgroup and organizational identification are associated with individuals’ experience of reduced strain and burnout as well as greater health and well-being.

In short, liking the people we work with on the immediate level (our team) as well as the macro level (the organization as a whole) and experiencing a sense of belonging helps us to stay healthy and sane. From a Positive Psychology point of view, it´s interesting to see that social bonds do help to prevent stress, but even more so, foster the experience of positive outcomes:

Social identification feeds more strongly into the promotion of what is “good for us” than into the prevention of what is “bad for us”. These findings support previous work which has made the point that the absence of stress is not equivalent to the presence of well-being. More specifically, findings are consistent with a psychological conception of positive human health and phenomenological accounts of social identification which suggest that increases in identification capture increases in positive experiences and are therefore related particularly strongly to positive forms of well-being.

Here´s to you, Chris Peterson!

4 Hugs for Survival, 8 for Maintenance, 12 for Growth

I love this quote by the “Mother of Family Therapy”, Virginia Satir. Reminds me of Roy Baumeister´s article Bad is stronger than Good – and how we need to actively counterbalance the impact of negative incidents and encounters in our lives.

Virginia Satir - Hugs

Do you want to find more Meaning in your Work? Here´s where you should look for it – according to Science

Feeling that your work has a deeper meaning or purpose has many positive consequences, for yourself as well as your organization: For instance, higher levels of engagement, job satisfaction, and (individual) performance. Therefore, researchers as well as practitioners have tried to find the antecedents of meaning in work for quite some time. Yet, it turns out that it´s a pretty complicated issue. A job that yields a lot of meaning for one person might feel totally meaningless for another individual.

Where should we look for the source of meaning in work? Is it something that can be found within ourselves? Does it depend on the type of job? Or is it determined by some characteristics of the organization? The answer is: very likely, all of those factors do play their role – and in part, meaning depends on the interaction between the characteristics of the person and those of the job.

In an empirical study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, Tatjana Schnell and her colleagues surveyed some 200 people from different occupational backgrounds. In short, here´s what they´ve found:

When looking at all factors in a single model…

  • the strongest predictor of meaning in work is job significance (= the perceived implications one’s deeds have on an organizational, societal or even global level);
  • the runner-up is the organization´s socio-moral climate (= a culture that fosters a) open confrontation with social conflicts and problems; b) reliable appreciation, care, and support; and  c) participative collaboration);
  • third place goes to the organizations´s self-transcendent orientation (= commitment to a higher purpose, combined with a concern for ethics and integrity);
  • and the last (but not least) impact comes in the form of work-role fit (= a perceived match between personal identity and actual job activities).

All in all, those attributes are able to predict almost 50% of the variance pertaining to participants´ level of perceived in meaning in work (that´s quite a lot in the context of psychological research). To put in everyday language:

We find meaning in our work when we frequently have the opportunity to perceive the (positive) outcome of our individual contribution, when our organization promotes a culture of fairness, trust, support – and authentically commits to some “greater good”, and when we feel that our job provides us with lots of opportunities to use our unique talents and matches our personal values.

In another fascinating article, Brent D. Rosso et al. try to provide an integrative model that compasses (more or less) all known factors that influence perceived meaning in work. Personally, I think it´s a very insightful (and: beautiful…) piece of research – and I will reread it frequently. I think, it is pretty self-explanatory, so I´ll leave it up to you to make the most of it.

 

Study: To Belong is to Matter: Sense of Belonging Enhances Meaning in Life

Nico Rose - Meaning in LifeOne of the central tenets in Positive Psychology goes as follows: Other People Matter. It was coined by the late Christopher Peterson as the shortest possible summary of research on human wellbeing. Peterson wanted to make the point that having healthy relationships with family, friends, and coworkers turns out to be the strongest predictor of happiness (and oftentimes: health) in most studies on human wellbeing.

A recent study by Nathaniel Lambert et. al titled To Belong is to Matter: Sense of Belonging Enhances Meaning in Life sheds additional light on this relationship. Here´s a shortened version of the article´s abstract:

We found correlational, longitudinal, and experimental evidence that a sense of belonging predicts how meaningful life is perceived to be. Additionally, we found a strong positive correlation between sense of belonging and meaningfulness. Furthermore, we found that initial levels of sense of belonging predicted perceived meaningfulness of life, obtained 3 weeks later. Furthermore, initial sense of belonging predicted independent evaluations of participants essays on meaning in life.

In short, what they are saying is:

Belonging = Meaning

Or, more precisely: If I matter to other people, my life matters.