In this blog, I want to dig a little deeper into the notion of positive psychological capital. Higher levels of psychological capital are a good way of keeping burn-out out of the door. While intervening on human factors like leadership and teaching individuals to manage their energy levels - or psychological capital - the context factor should not be forgotten. There is a link between psychological capital, performance, and job design.
The notion of psychological capital is an interesting one. It was introduced by Luthans in 2006. Luthans describes four mental states which determine flow and thus feelings of well-being:
A review study conducted in 2014 by Newman et al. insists on leadership as an important antecedent for psychological capital. In other words, authentic and transformational leadership results in high levels of individual psychological capital. The study also reveals that high psychological capital leads to empowerment, which in turn has a positive impact on individual, team and organizational results.
As organizations are always looking to improve performance, it seems logical that they want to set up programs that should lead to higher levels of psychological capital. In my dealings with different organizations, I see two major interventions:
While both interventions mentioned above certainly have their benefits, I doubt that they lead to success without being backed up by interventions that have an impact on the context in which people work. To make a blunt statement:
"Teaching people to survive in a toxic environment will at best buy you some time"
From the research done by Karasek, we know that active work environments with both high levels of autonomy and demands have a positive impact on
and a negative impact on
Together with de Vliegtuigfabriek, we have conducted an experiment that allowed participants to experience the link between positive psychological capital and the way work is organized. Read this blog for the results.
Contact us if you want more information about our evidence-based tooling for measuring and improving positive psychological capital.
ALEXANDER NEWMAN, DENIZ UCBASARAN, FEI ZHU AND GILES HIRST (2014). Psychological capital: A review and synthesis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35, 120–138.
Luthans, F. (2006). Psychological capital development: toward a micro‐intervention, Journal of Organizational Behavior.
Karasek Jr, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job redesign. Administrative science quarterly, 285-308.