Leveraging the Link Between Workplace Positivity and Productivity

The internet has made on-the-job distraction all the more easy, so how do association managers motivate their staff to stay on track? Hint: It’s not implementing website blockers.

Do you know what cyberloafing is? According to The Boston Globe, “cyberloafing means using the internet for purposes not related to work, like looking at cat videos or checking your NCAA March Madness bracket.”

In a recent study, Paychex examined timewasting at the workplace. Among its findings: Cyberloafing was one of the chief ways that employees wasted time at the office.

Paychex also asked respondents about how their employers were handling the time-wasting problem. About one-third said that they had implemented website blockers, while around 10 percent of employers enforced an internet policy—both of which employees found to be ineffective tactics in reducing their cyberloafing.

Instead of looking over shoulders or imposing internet policies, what about intentionally building up your employees?

The case for creating a positive working environment

You might think that a high-pressure, high-stress, super-competitive office environment is key to turning your cyberloafing staff around. But research referenced in Harvard Business Review actually shows that, in the long term, workplace stress leads to increases in staff turnover, staff disengagement, and even negative health outcomes.

Positivity, however, has different outcomes. Researchers at Harvard found that mutual relationships of care and support among colleagues engender a positive working environment. A team that seeks to forgive, inspire, and respect one another are additional important qualities. And a focus on the meaningfulness of the work is key to a positive workplace as well.

“Your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral, or stressed,” says “happiness” psychologist Shawn Achor in a TED Talk. “Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we found is that every single business outcome improves.”

how do you do it?

One way to start fostering a positive environment is simply by listening to your employees and showing them that you care for them professionally and personally.

When I was pregnant with my son, my boss at the time gave me his daughters’ old crib. And not only did he give us the crib, he transported it in his SUV and offered to put it together for us. And I’ve never forgotten that kindness and generosity.

“When leaders are not just fair but self-sacrificing, their employees are actually moved and inspired to become more loyal and committed themselves,” according to the Harvard Business Review. “As a consequence, they are more likely to go out of their way to be helpful and friendly to other employees, thus creating a self-reinforcing cycle.”

“We all work harder when we feel respected and appreciated,” writes Jeff Haden on Inc., nothing that although that point might be obvious, it’s nonetheless easy to forget.

Haden recommends that employers build individualized incentives for their employees, which again shows your care for them and also gives them the opportunity to rise to a challenge like leading a presentation to upper management or asking them to head up an important project.

“Every job has some latitude—make sure you fully exploit that latitude so your employees can feel better about themselves, both as an employee and as a person,” Haden writes. “They’ll naturally be more productive—and happier.”


Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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