Why Positivity

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Albert Schweitzer

The happiness landscape

Employees’ expectations for rewarding work experience, continuous learning and development opportunities, and a dynamic career progression are on the rise. Job hopping is becoming the new normal for the majority of the younger generation employees who anticipate gaining enriching experiences from multiple employers at every stage of their careers. The days of moving up a ladder with one company are over. 

Yet, many companies are still behind time in their ability to provide the best experience for their talents. The incongruence between employees’ expectations and what the workplace has to offer leads to a downward spiral in engagement levels and poor employee retention rates. Studies conducted by Gallup, Deloitte LLC., and Quantum Workplace, chart employee engagement in 2016 at 30-35%. This means that nearly 70% of the time employees are disengaged, and this margin is severely impacting companies’ bottom lines.

(Source: Gallup, 2016)

What is a lack of positivity and engagement costing companies?

  • On average, it takes 30 days and USD$4,425 to fill an open position (SHRM Talent Acquisition Report, 2017).
  • A new employee can take more than 6 months to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member (MITSloan, 2005).
  • Active disengagement costs Singapore between SGD$4.9 to SGD$6.7 billion annually (Gallup, 2003).
  • Business units in the bottom quartile of engagement suffer a spectrum of key business outcomes ranging from employee absenteeism to profitability (Gallup, 2014).

(Source: Gallup, 2016)

Positive psychology to the rescue

Positive psychology is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behavior, with a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses, building the good in life instead of repairing the bad, and taking the lives of average people up to “great” instead of focusing solely on moving those who are struggling up to “normal” (Peterson, 2009). 

Applied to the workplace, psychology helps to patch and enhance levels of engagement through its impact on employee’s well-being, which in turn improves the productivity and profitability of the company. People who experience positive emotions at work have higher levels of engagement, engage in constructive behaviours that are not part of their formal job descriptions, show higher job performance, and are less likely to experience burnout or engage in counterproductive behaviors (Lyubomirsky, King & Diener, 2005). Positive employees also make better decisions, are more creative and more productive, and have better interpersonal skills.

Why is positivity so powerful?

Shawn Achor, the author of “The Happiness Advantage” says our most commonly held formula for success is broken. Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard, we'll be more successful and if we are more successful then we'll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward. Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.

When employees are not happy they put in a minimum effort to avoid being fired at best and at worst, they could completely sabotage the company by deleting files containing months of hard work from the server.

On the contrary, happy employees are typically the ones who care about the company and are driven to make it achieve its goals, they are the only ones who even bother to find out these goals in the first place. When employees are happy, they feel invested in the company's goals and are more compelled to work. This is because happiness leads to higher engagement levels, so happy employees are also more present. They pay more attention to the needs of customers and they are more alert to the company’s processes and systems. All these factors come together to bring the company increased productivity and profitability.

It gets better.

Happiness is of a multiplying nature – when watered it can grow all over the entire company! More happy employees mean more happy bosses mean more happy employees, and the cycle continues.

Employees who find joy in their work easily become shining role models for their co-workers and encourage them to also take joy in their work. Managers who find joy in their jobs also encourage the workers under them to enjoy their work and are less likely to be stereotypically tyrannical.

Given today's workplace trends where workers are turning down higher-paying jobs for more fulfilling ones where they are more likely to find joy and inspiration, we argue that happiness is so important that it should be at the top of every manager's agenda!

Bringing positivity to the workplace

To help companies spread the power of positivity in their company, we have designed an approach that dives deep into the 5Ps framework of Positive Organisations - Positive Leadership, Positive Individual Attributes, Positive Emotions, Positive Relationship and Positive Organisational Practices. Each element in the framework aligns and inspires purpose, improves people's performance and happiness, and allows the company to better reap profits for continued success and growth.

Where we are today

Helping companies to increase their levels of workplace positivity and improving employee performance has been a calling for all of us at Align Group.

We have since impacted more than 1,000 companies in their transformation journeys. We are also the brain behind Singapore's National Workplace Happiness Survey, a national initiative in using data analytics to understand the psychology of talent motivation. In 2020, we have been recognised as one of the top 30 fastest growing companies in Singapore.

If you would like to learn more about how positive solutions could be applied in your company, drop us a message!


  1. Keith Rollag, Salvatore Parise and Rob Cross. “Getting New Hires Up to Speed Quickly.” MIT Sloan Management Review, 15 Jan. 2005, sloanreview.mit.edu/article/getting-new-hires-up-to-speed-quickly/.
  2. Lyubomirsky, Sonja & King, Laura & Diener, Ed. (2005). The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Hapiness Lead to Sucess?. Psychological bulletin. 131. 803-55. 10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803.
  3. Gallup, Inc. “Report: State of the American Workplace.” Gallup.com, Gallup, 22 Sept. 2014, www.gallup.com/services/176708/state-american-workplace.aspx.
  4. Gopal, Ashok. “Disengaged Employees Cost Singapore $4.9 Billion.” Gallup.com, Gallup, 9 Oct. 2003, news.gallup.com/businessjournal/1207/disengaged-employees-cost-singapore-49-billion.aspx.
  5. Mariotti, Andrew. “2017 Talent Acqusition Benchmarking Report.” SHRM, Dec. 2017, www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/2017-Talent-Acquisition-Benchmarking.pdf.
  6. Peterson, Christopher. (2009). Positive Psychology. Reclaiming Children and Youth.

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