Character strengths can be defined as morally positively valued attributes, such as self-control, teamwork and friendliness. Strengths that are peculiar to a person and frequently used by individuals are called signature strengths. Each person typically has three to seven. For the first time, Claudia Harzer and Willibald Ruch from the Department of Personality Psychology and Diagnostics at the University of Zurich have shown in two studies that a job is particularly valued if it aligns with one's signature strengths. In fact, employees will have a more positive work experience due to enjoyment, sense of purpose and satisfaction.
In the first study, Harzer and Ruch surveyed more than 1,000 workers about the expression of their character strengths, whether they are able to apply these strengths at work and how positively they experience their work. In their second study, besides self-assessments the scientists also analyzed how the test subjects' colleagues rate the applicability of the character strengths.
The degree of positive experiences increases with the number of signature strengths applied. In both studies, people who are able to apply four or more signature strengths at work have the highest values in terms of positive experience. They enjoy work more, are more wrapped up in it, perceive their work as more meaningful and are more satisfied with their job. These people also perceive their work more as a calling than people who are able to apply three signature strengths or fewer in the workplace.
The researcher's findings provide insights that might be useful for the selection of personnel, human resources development and workplace design.
"If it is clarified which character strengths are central for the job before a position is filled, a person can be recruited based on these strengths," Harzer said. "Employers and employees only stand to benefit from this.
(Story materials via the University of Zurich and AlphaGalileo.)