In my constant quest to create a more positive atmosphere in the workplace for those around me as well as for myself, I often come across research articles that offer knowledge, wisdom, and guidance on how to improve job satisfaction and work productivity while reducing turnover.
Today, I came across one such article by Proudfoot, Corr, Guest, and Dunn (2009) that completed a scientific psychological experiment with regard to employee attributional styles and their effects on turnover rates, productivity, job satisfaction, self-esteem, and psychological well-being in the workplace.
You may be asking what is an attributional style? Proudfoot and colleagues (2009) sum it up nicely with the following statement:
“Attributional style is the characteristic way people attribute causes to events, particularly successes and failures” (p. 147)
They go on to explain that a person with a Pessimistic Attributional Style tends to attribute negative events internally while positive events are attributed to external causes, even when there is evidence to the contrary (Proudfoot et al., 2009). The Pessimistic Attributional Style often results in hopelessness and giving up when these individuals encounter stress, failure, rejection, or other negative events (Proudfoot et al., 2009). In the workplace, this might be demonstrated by absenteeism and thoughts about or actually quitting (Proudfoot et al., 2009).
On the other hand, those with an Optimistic Attributional Style tend to attribute negative feelings externally and positive events internally. In other words, they take credit for their own positive experiences and believe that negative experiences must be due to some external factor. Proudfoot and colleagues (2009) quote the research of Corr and Gray (1995, 1996) reporting that this optimism significantly correlates with high job satisfaction and performance levels in the workplace.
In the research study conducted by Proudfoot and colleagues (2009), they provided a sample of employees with a Pessimistic Attributional Style who work in a high-stress, high-turnover profession with some Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy styled intervention to help them improve their outlook into a more Positive Attributional Style.
The intervention included teaching on automatic thoughts, thought recording, thinking errors, changing unhelpful thinking, accessing deeper beliefs, goal setting, time management, task breakdown, activity scheduling, action planning, and relapse intervention (Proudfoot et al., 2009).
The Results were profound. They saw a 66% improvement in turnover rates, a significant increase in long-term productivity, and a significant decrease in symptoms of psychological stress warranting intervention (Proudfoot et al., 2009).
The point of this story is to emphasize that your outlook on life and how you choose to approach … anything… has a significant bearing on the outcome. When you stop viewing yourself as a problem and start viewing yourself as a solution, good things will happen. When you stop believing that people around you do not think highly of you and start thinking more highly of yourself, good things will happen to you. And when you start looking for the positives in your life, your relationships, your workplace, believing that your positive experiences are a direct result of you making them happen for yourself, more positives will start coming your way.
Proudfoot, J. G., Corr, P. J., Guest, D. E., & Dunn, G. (2009). Cognitive-behavioural training to change attributional style improves employee well-being, job satisfaction, productivity, and turnover. Personality and Individual Differences, 46(2), 147-153.