“What hunger is about food, zest is about life.”

Amongst all strengths, zest is worth looking at [read our article defining zest] because it is directly related to physical and psychological wellbeing. Research findings on the benefits of the strength of zest found that it is one of the two strengths most strongly connected with happiness and life satisfaction [1]. Zest is strongly connected with the strength of hope, as both are aligned with higher positivity.

Characteristics of zestful people

Extensive research and studies on positive psychology have revealed the following characteristics zestful people have in common:

  • 1. Zest provides a buffer against stress and burnout
    Zestful people are all the way more satisfied with their jobs and are less prone to burnouts and stress attacks. A study on zest in the adult working population in 2009 revealed that employees who showed traits of zest were more thriving and dynamic professionals [2] . Regardless of their talent or intellectual abilities, they were more likable, took fewer sick leave days, and were considered as ‘assets’ of the organizations.
  • 2. Zest is the best predictor of work as a “calling” – or fulfillment
    People can see work from different perspectives – we call these ‘orientations’ to work [3]. The 3 different orientations one can have are:
    – a job : focus on financial rewards and necessity rather than pleasure or fulfillment; not a major positive part of life
    – a career ladder: focus on advancement to achieve status, power, and self-esteem
    – a calling: focus on the enjoyment of fulfilling, socially useful work – intrinsically rewarding and central part of one’s very existence.
    Among the strengths measured by the VIA-IS, and across all occupations, research [4] showed that zest predicted the stance that work was a calling. Those who regard work in these terms describe it as central in their lives and enjoyable. Not surprisingly, their satisfaction with work is high! At Zest for work we frame this work orientation as “fulfillment”. We believe that finding alignment between what organizations strive for and fulfilling at work for employees is one of the keys to sustaining win-win employment relationships for the future of work.
  • 3. Zest is a direct contributor to productivity at work
    The right combination of character strengths is all people need to make the most of their goals, plans, and ambitions.

Zest gives the boost needed to drive results and make strong commitment while getting rid of any negativity that might be in the way. Zest will let people enter a flow state where they can maximize their abilities and their time. In a study [5] conducted on job satisfaction of middle-aged women employees, it was found that zestful women not only did better at work but also felt more energized and positive at the end of each day.

  • 4. Zest softens emotional derailers
    Need patience in your job to cope with frustrations, disagreements? Studies have found that in jobs where professionals cannot afford to lose their patience or kindness – like teaching and nursing – a zestful attitude ensures better productivity. A 2009 review [6] on character strengths indicated that teachers who had zest could accomplish their daily tasks with more energy and humor, as opposed to less zestful teachers who became impatient and irritable after the first few hours at work.
  • 5. Zest implies better relationships
    Zestful people have the power of managing conflicts as they can understand the other’s perspective. They show more empathy, positive self-expression, and can effectively communicate with others. They are most successful in building trustful connections at work.
  • 6. Zest helps employees engage in meaningful learning activities
    The urge to learn new things and apply them to the workplace is a trait that scientists closely related to zest. As such, zest can be a powerful tool for self-improvement! And as good things come together, a study conducted by the University of Michigan found that people who proactively engaged themselves in learning were twice more satisfied with their jobs than people who participated in passive activities.

DON’T WAIT! Start building a zestful workforce!



[1] Nansook Park, Christopher Peterson, Martin E. P. Seligman (2004). Strengths of Character and Well-Being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 23, No. 5, pp. 603-619.


[3] Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 1985

[4] Wrzesniewski et al. (1997)

[5] Zest for work? Assessment of enthusiasm and satisfaction with the present work situation and health–a 1.5-year follow-up study  Malin Josephson, Eva Vingård – Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

[6] Character Strengths: Research and Practice – Nansook Park & Christopher Peterson

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