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What Is Positive Organizational Behavior?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Positive organizational behavior represents the study of how positive emotions relate to employee performance in the workplace. It explores how positive psychology applies to the work environment and how employees can be taught to improve their positive psychological resource capacities. Researchers of positive organizational behavior believe developing hope, optimism, and resilience leads to higher-performing employees.

Employees who possess hope spend energy on meeting goals and using willpower to face challenges, according to these researchers. They plan for situations and re-evaluate events as they occur. This positive organization behavior creates determined employees who look for alternative solutions to get a job done when problems arise. They see problems as challenges and more effectively produce results beneficial to the company, the theory states.

Optimism allows a person to internalize events and see negative events as temporary and linked to outside situations. Pessimism promotes failure, according to positive organizational behavior studies, but optimism can be learned and measured, and impacts how a person performs in the workplace. An employee who is optimistic forgives past mistakes, lives in the present, and looks to the future for opportunities.

The positive organizational behavior defined as resilience permits employees to recover quickly from setbacks and move on. It enables them to overcome conflict and failure and meet new challenges. When employees possess optimism, they use flexibility and adaptation to find solutions for problems. Optimism can be developed in the workplace through training and measured by how well employees meet company goals.

Teaching positive organizational behavior leads to better job satisfaction, work happiness, and commitment to the company, the theory states. Employees who are satisfied at work will go above and beyond what is expected of them. They will volunteer to help coworkers and take on additional tasks without resenting the extra work. When job satisfaction is high, employees are open to change if it benefits the employer.

Happiness at work denotes another benefit of positive organizational behavior. This is considered an emotional trait that promotes a sense of well-being in employees. Workers who are happy in the workplace generally appear healthier mentally and physically, and are better able to cope with stress. They are more likely to reach their highest potential, which can be evaluated via their performance.

Commitment to the organization suggests a positive organizational behavior that results in less absenteeism and turnover. Employees who believe in the company or agency where they work remain at their jobs because they want to, not because they need to. They believe in the products or services produced and work to make the firm stronger and more profitable.

Studies conducted on positive organizational behavior show the capacities of hope, resilience, and optimism create motivated employees and affect their professional attitudes. Some companies using these psychological approaches use self-testing to measure employees’ job satisfaction, happiness at work, and commitment to the organization. These factors can be compared with job performance to determine if a correlation exists.

Why Is Organizational Behavior Important in the Workplace?

Companies that invest adequate time and resources into developing and implementing a strong organizational behavior model send the message that they value people, and not just profits. Organizational behavior steers the direction of a business, from streamlining daily operations to determining long-term viability. Organizational behavior enables employers to focus on actionable change at individual and organizational levels.

1. Create a Positive Work Environment

By understanding individual behaviors and group dynamics, companies can strive to establish a workplace culture that makes employees feel happy, comfortable, and valued. High company morale leads to increased motivation, improved productivity, and greater job satisfaction. A positive work environment can be characterized by:

  • Open and transparent communication
  • Support for creativity and innovation
  • Sufficient growth opportunities
  • Clearly-defined goals and purposes
  • Authentic and meaningful rewards systems

The physical environment is also important. A comfortable workspace with ergonomic furniture can maximize productivity. Adequate break facilities allow employees to recharge throughout the day. The office layout should include open spaces for collaboration and enclosed areas for independent tasks.

2. Recognize the Value of a Diverse Workforce

Employees are more than the sum of their job skills. Each person possesses a unique set of personality traits, values, and beliefs, resulting in a workplace that is rich in experiences and perspectives. Managers can leverage the advantages of diversity and navigate potential conflicts by fostering an environment of respect, open communication, and constructive problem-solving.

3. Identify and Address Root Causes of Work-Related Issues

Employers who are well-versed in concepts of organizational behavior are better equipped to identify and resolve problems in the workplace. They can tailor their approach to what is best-suited for their teams. Knowledge of employee behavior patterns can even help managers anticipate potential and plan accordingly. 

4. Call Attention to the Human Side of a Business

Employees are not emotionless cogs. They are people who have feelings, problems, and a life outside of work. Organizational behavior serves as a reminder that humanity is a necessary component of any workplace. Treating mistakes with compassion, promoting creativity and independent thinking, and emphasizing well-being increase motivation, productivity, job satisfaction, and job retention. Employees also feel a stronger sense of commitment and loyalty to companies that value them as human beings.

5. Position a Company for Long-Term Success

The happier employees are, the more productive they are. In addition, companies with satisfied employees experience less turnover, saving money on recruiting and training new staff. The bottom line is that positive organizational behavior contributes to a company’s bottom line and the ability to sustain profitability over time.

What Are the Four Elements of Organizational Behavior?

To effectively manage employees, companies should be familiar with the four elements of organizational behavior: people, structure, technology, and the external environment. They also need to understand how these elements interact with each other and formulate responses to factors outside of the organization’s control.

People

People comprise the most significant part of an organization. No business can exist without people. Within an organization, people are grouped formally, such as by department or informally, as when work friendships develop. Groups are dynamic, with new ones forming and existing ones changing or dissolving — all to meet company goals.

Structure

An organization’s structure outlines the roles and relationships of personnel, often establishing a hierarchy that includes executives, managers, supervisors, and associates. It denotes work responsibilities and draws clear lines between leadership and direct reports.

Technology

The primary purpose of technology is to complete tasks more efficiently and economically. Technology includes both hardware such as machinery and computers and software such as office applications and web browsers. It’s often viewed as a double-edged sword because it makes work considerably easier but often blurs the lines between work and home life with 24/7 access to email and office portals. Companies can establish technology etiquette as part of their commitment to positive organizational behavior.

External Environment

This element is affected by economic, political, societal, geographical, and legal factors which are largely outside of an organization’s control. Companies must manage the influence these factors have on working conditions and employees’ mindsets and well-being.

How Can Learning Positive Organizational Behavior Help You in Your Daily Life?

Engaging in positive organizational behavior allows you to learn more about yourself and your behaviors, as well as those around you. This understanding can help you navigate conflict, build stronger relationships, increase work performance and achieve greater satisfaction. You can wake up rested and look forward to going to work, knowing that you, your colleagues and your leaders are dedicated to the same goals. Organizational behavior is a roadmap to an overall better quality of life.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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