For years we heard about “engagement” surveys, then “work passion” came in, and now “vitality” or “vigour” join the conversation, but “thriving” seems to be winning the game. Of course, we would have preferred “Zest” to win the game 😉, but we do understand why “thriving” wins. In scientific terms, Zest belongs more to personality whereas Thriving is a dynamic state (that can change more rapidly).
Let’s explore in more details how to define the word “thriving” and most importantly, what HR and Occupational Health professionals can learn from recent research about the conditions that lead to thriving at work.
Thriving is one of numerous constructs related to personal energy at work. Some companies, like Microsoft, came up with their own definition of thriving: “to be energized and empowered to do meaningful work.”
In Academic research, the concept of thriving is clarified by Spreitzer et al. (2005) as being
“the psychological state in which individuals experience both a sense of vitality and a sense of learning at work”
Good news for L&D Department, Spreitzer et al. established a hard link between learning & development and thriving: “people CANNOT thrive without learning and development”!
Thriving is seen as a dynamic state, a sense of progress or forward movement in the employee’s self-development. With a dynamic state, it means that employees can experience higher or lower states at any point in time.
Similarities can be found between the concept of vigour and thriving. Both concepts refer to experiencing a sense of vitality, feeling energetic, and feeling alert.
What was found in the literature review “Personal Energy at work: A Systemic Review” review is that the main antecedents to thriving and vigour are either linked to the person (Personal Factors) or to the environment in which he / she operates (Contextual Factors) and also depend on the “strain-recovery” processes through which the person go.
Competence is positively related to personal energy at work. This means feeling capable to perform your tasks. Interestingly, “Political skill – the ability to understand social and political aspects in the workplace and use that understanding to effectively influence others” has been found to enhance workplace thriving.
Task focus, exploration and heedful relating are work behaviours that drive thriving at work. Openness also relates to the vigour component in work engagement.
Those who are more active and purposeful at work are more likely to experience and sustain vitality and learning (Paterson et al.).
Employees become more attached to their organization and experience more beneficial outcomes like feeling energized, when they have stronger relational attachment – “cumulative experience of feeling connected, attached and close to others at work” (Erhhardt et al.).
Neurotism is one of the big 5 personality traits that has a negative relationship with thriving and can inhibit personal energy at work. Neuroticism is defined by a propensity toward anxiety, negativity, and self-doubt. As with all personality traits, neuroticism exists on a spectrum, so everyone is at least a little bit neurotic…
According to the Gallup studies, the line manager accounts for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. A good leader-member exchange, relationship harmony and mutual understanding are important to nurture to build a thriving environment. Conversely, leaders that cause overload or role ambiguity can negatively impact energy.
Creating a climate that stimulates involvement of employees, e.g., employees can make opportunities to learn and are rewarded positively, relates to thriving!
Personal strain (severe excessive demands on the strengths, resources, or abilities of someone) can be a negative influencer but can also serve as an enhancer of energy if there is sufficient recovery! (Techniques to switch between strain and recovery have shown to be of impact on all dimensions of energy: Check out our Energy for Life Program, that’s what you learn there!).
Stimulating recovery through psychological, mental, or physical relaxation during work time (e.g., proper time for a lunch break). Lifestyle intervention offerings, like mindfulness trainings, are also positive contributors to thriving.
There are so many aspects that can be looked at and worked on, where will you start?
 Alexandra Francina Janneke Klijn, Maria Tims, Evgenia I. Lysova and Svetlana N. Kapova. Department of Management and Organisation, School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
 Harter, JK ; Schmidt, F.L. ; Keyes, C.L.M.. Well being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes. A review of the Gallup studies.
Based on the original Corporate Athlete training (Human Performance Institute, HPI), using over 30 years of performance science this training helps individuals to actively manage their own energy, become more resilient and bring their best self to work every day.
We’ve compiled 10 simple and effective approaches that you could apply at your workplace to set the stage for zest.
Managing the energy capacity and not the available time starts by understanding the 4 dimensions of Energy.
In recent studies, well-being turns out to be one of the top priorities for organizations. 32% of workers report to struggle or to have struggled with well-being issues. 51 % of Managers find it hard to identify who in the team needs support. In this light, it is increasingly necessary for companies to establish processes, resources, coaching and tools to foster openness and to listen to employees’ needs in order to help workers develop resilience and well-being (Adecco, 2021). In this blog, I want to talk about the relationship between career well-being and Self-Management. I will argue that career well-being is positively linked to the degree to which individuals are capable of managing their own careers.
First, we have to ask ourselves what career well-being is. At TalentLogiQs we consider it a function of alignment with intrinsic motivators and of a long-term healthy balance between your job demands and your career resources so that they induce energy rather than stress. People who manage to maintain healthy levels of self-confidence, optimism, resilience and hope over a long period of time will experience positive feelings about their career and therefore report feelings of career well-being.
The second question is: “What is Self-Management in the career?” At TalentLogiQs it is defined as showing high scores on the Career Attitudes. In a previous blog, I’ve explained in detail the four Career Attitudes we measure.
Both concepts – Energy-Stress balance and Career Attitudes – are measured in individuals. By now, I’ve done over 300 feedbacks and in my experience, there is a clear link between these concepts, which is also supported by statistical analyses.
Of course, there are individual cases which don’t fit the global trend.
In conclusion, a career is a marathon and not a sprint. Since professional activities can be highly demanding, it is important for every individual to regularly check their Energy-Stress Balance levels. Developing Self-Management in the career is a good recipe to prevent burn- or bore out.
Written by Lesley Vanleke, Zest Academy Partner TalentLogiQs
Developed and validated by TalentLogiQs®, a spin-off of the University of Antwerp, the Career Fitness Profiler is an evidence-based questionnaire that provide insights and facilitate conversations related to talent and succession management, career development, mobility and stress/wellbeing.
Crazy schedules, long hours, real-time demands… and on top of it, the current pandemic integrated all parts of our lives. In these challenging times, we work one-on-one with your people to improve their energy and vitality and to prevent burnout and or other unnecessary absenteeism.
In this blog we share the different elements of a whole person’s wellbeing that collectively create a holistic approach to wellbeing.