When we are ‘playing to our strengths’ we are energised and motivated. The experience of being totally absorbed in a work task comes when we are using our skills with just the right amount of stretch. This state of ‘flow’ is good for happiness and wellbeing.
Considerable pleasure is gained from using our strengths, both at work, and outside of it. People have many different types of strengths – these can be skills, talents, interests or resources – and being able to spot these strengths in yourself and others means they can be nurtured and developed, which can lead to better experiences than a focus on correcting weaknesses.
Evidence shows that when employees feel that their position at work is suited to their capabilities and they can make use of their strengths, they are happier and less likely to feel stressed. Feeling like you’re under using your skills or that you’re over-qualified for the job are both strongly related to low job satisfaction. At the other end, employees who felt under-qualified also report lower levels of wellbeing.
Research has shown that when we feel there is a good match between our skills and those required for the job, we can become absorbed in task activities. This feeling of focus, engagement and satisfaction, where a sense of time and place sometimes melts away, is called ‘flow’. Research has shown that people are more likely to reach a state of flow at work rather than in leisure. Flow can be experienced only when a person is required to use a high level of skills – this means that jobs that do not challenge us will not lead to a state of flow.
“Wisdom is sometimes found in old clichés and there are few older than that fridge magnet favourite “Do what you love doing”. If you do enjoy the actual work you do, then you are probably using your key strengths. And the wonderful thing is that we’re all different - so we can happily collaborate together whilst using our different strengths.” Nic Marks, Friday