Is your workforce engaged? … Since the last decade, engagement became one of the buzz words in HR, driving endless surveys and countless interventions around engaging employees. A big industry focusing on happiness ramped up surfing that wave… cause happy employees perform better…
So before you recruit your chief happiness officer, let’s pause for a minute and dig into what drives satisfaction at work. Actually, one of the biggest denominators for work satisfaction is the actual work itself : is it challenging enough? do I learn new things? can I do it my own way? can I invent/create? can I make an impact that is visible and valued? This is absolutely worth looking at in a personalized manner, not an empirical one, as this varies according to each person’s subjective definition of success.

What else is there?
While important psychological resources such as hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism (the HERO within) are known to be a core construct for well-being and thriving at work, research found that job satisfaction and performance are also linked to a certain approach to work: the overall ZEST and enthusiasm with which a person lives. ZEST is an overlooked strength we feel needs to become the next black within HR! We are so enthusiastic about this strength we named our company after it. Research showed that the strength of ZEST predicts a fulfilling approach to work and more generally life satisfaction.
So let’s talk you through what zest is and why we feel you should be focusing on getting more zesty people in your organization.

What is Zest?

Zest is originally a culinary French word that means “the peel of an orange or a lemon.” The zest for life is like the seasoning, like the flavoring that makes something enjoyable. Who wants a bland life? Add some zest!

Zest is defined in the classification of Character Strengths as:

‘Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated’

In the science of positive psychology, zest belongs to the cluster of courage traits. It involves components of motivation, adventurousness, and robust coping mechanisms. Zest is a dynamic and positive strength also identified as energy, liveliness, vitality, exuberance, or joie de vivre.

Bertrand Russell – author of The conquest of happiness – described:

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

People who are high in zest are excited to get up in the morning, and they live their lives like an adventure. Zestful persons will work with high spirits and will have the solidarity to confront difficulties emphatically. They are the ones who will hold tight and not give up during times of distress. If you now think COVID 19, wouldn’t you like a zesty workforce that sees this unprecedented time as just the next adventure?

The impact of Zest

Even though sources of happiness differ from person to person – what makes you happy may not evoke the same emotions in another person – people with zestful traits can derive pleasure and fulfillment more often than others – maybe for different reasons, but with the same effect.

According to the character strength review by Seligman and Peterson, zest brings with it the opportunity to:

  • Experience a state of ‘flow’ at work (state of supreme motivation, enthusiasm and top results)
  • Be productive – utilizing our skills and abilities to the fullest
  • Develop secure and long-lasting interpersonal connections – both personally and professionally
  • Align their values and belief systems to their actions, so that they derive maximum pleasure and satisfaction from anything they do

Zest comes with a lot of additional benefits: besides making people high on life-energy, it makes a significant impact on the ways we perceive failures, face adversities, and bounce back on the right track. [Read more about Benefits of Zest at work]

Measure the Zestyness of your team

Simply start to check how zesty are your staff or your team!

A self-report measure of zest actually exists as part of the VIA inventory of strengths (VIA-IS). Sample items measuring zest include:

  • I want to fully participate in life, not just view it from the sidelines
  • I look forward to each new day
  • I cannot wait to get started on a project
  • I awaken with a sense of excitement about the day’s possibilities

We’ve also compiled simple tips for you to boost Zest in your work environment [read more]
Wishing you a lot of zestful days!



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