What is psychological capital? Who are positive employees? There has been a lot of buzz around the word “Positivity” in the past few years. This is the aftermath of positive psychology movement which emphasized the positive character strengths and psychological capacities of individuals such as optimism and resilience, rather than negative psychological states like stress and anxiety. This “positivity” drive also made inroads into organizations. Organizations of today look for individuals who possess these positive psychological capacities like hope, optimism, resilience and efficacy. These positive psychological states and character strengths are termed as psychological capital of individuals. The employees who possess these positive psychological capacities are characterized as “positive employees”. Let’s analyze what is psychological capital and what character strengths it comprises off.

Psychological Capital

Psychological capital is a higher order construct comprises of hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism (HERO). These four positive psychological states have been included in the broader concept of psychological capital. Let’s examine each psychological state separately.

Hope

According to psychologist professor Snyder hope is “a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (1) Agency (goal-directed energy) and (2) Pathways (planning to meet goals)”.

Hope is positively associated with job performance, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and work happiness.

Characteristics of hopeful employees

Hopeful employees are creative and have internal locus of control. They are driven by their needs for growth and achievement and require autonomy to perform their jobs.

Efficacy

According to psychologist Professor Bandura efficacy is “people’s beliefs in their capabilities to produce desired effects by their own actions”.

Self-efficacy is positively associated with job performance, job satisfaction, work engagement, organizational commitment, and well-being whereas, negatively associated with turnover intention.

Characteristics of self-efficacious employees

Self-efficacious employees are self-motivated. They welcome new challenges and show perseverance when faced by obstacles. They set high goals and invest effort to accomplish those goals.

Resilience

According to psychologist professor Luthans, resilience is “the capacity to rebound or bounce back from adversity, conflict, failure, or even positive events, progress, and increased responsibility”.

Resilience has been found to be positively associated with job performance, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and happiness.

Characteristics of resilient employees

Resilient employees have positive self-perceptions, emotional stability, self-regulation, good cognitive abilities and sense of humor. They are independent, creative, moral and have positive relationships.

Optimism

Optimism is a positive expectancy about future. It is the interpretation of negative events as temporary and external whereas, positive events as personal and permanent.

Optimism is positively associated with job performance, job satisfaction and work happiness.

Characteristics of optimist employees

Optimist employees capitalize on the presented opportunities and develop their skills and abilities accordingly. In good times they take credit for their success and express appreciation for other contributing factors. They have the ability to learn from their mistakes and accept what they cannot change.

Psychological capital (HERO): Causes

Psychological capital is a higher order construct which consist of hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism. Supportive Organizational climate, supervisor support and leadership (transformational, transactional, and authentic) are found to be the antecedents of psychological capital. Stressful working environment and work family conflict affect psychological capital negatively.

Psychological capital (HERO): consequences

Psychological capital is found to be positively associated with positive outcomes such as, job performance, job satisfaction, work engagement, organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behavior and psychological well-being. Psychological capital is negatively associated with undesirable outcomes such as turnover intention, stress, cynicism and deviance.

Psychological capital and Organizations

In the light of these findings it is important for organizations to inculcate these positive psychological states in individuals to improve individual and organizational performance. Organizations should choose and train employees to be more hopeful, efficacious, resilient and optimist.

 

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