The Power of Positive Psychology in Training and Development

positive psychology

Being positive goes beyond short-term (and often fickle) moods and preferences – it is a consistent mindset that steers how employees perceive learning as a whole—the idea of seeking the most meaningful goals in life may sum up positive psychology. 

Essentially, positive psychology is a body of study that focuses on well-being and its vital role in determining an individual’s performance. Its fundamental theories relate to feeling good and performing/functioning at top form as a result. 

Positive Psychology’s Influence on Employee Training

Training and development remain a priority as the modern landscape becomes increasingly globalised and digitised. Information and technology may change rapidly, and on a dime, organisations may fall behind with ineffective employee training policies. 

Modern employees realise the importance of keeping up with the shifting demands of their roles and hence, place professional growth high on their list of career goals. 

Positive psychology plays a crucial role in the success of organisational training and development. By identifying the sources of happiness and satisfaction in employees, organisational leaders can help build a positive work culture. These will motivate the workforce and keep employees driven towards self-growth and development. 

Additionally, positive psychology brings about other benefits, such as improved employee engagement, which reduces absenteeism and turnover rates. While positive psychology provides various advantages for organisations, leaders may recognise its profound effects on training and development initiatives. 

The Origins of Positive Psychology

While the term “positive psychology” dates back to the 1950s, American psychologist Martin Seligman developed its modern adaptation. Specifically, Seligman created the PERMA model that drove emotional well-being within an organisation. 

The PERMA model presented five elements that keep employees satisfied and well-adjusted to a workplace environment. These elements can help shape positive employee mindsets that shape training and development outcomes with proper guidance and encouragement. 

PERMA’s five elements are positive emotions, engagements, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. 

Understanding and Applying PERMA

PERMA relates to a theory of well-being that organisational leaders can readily apply toward improving employee engagement and satisfaction. And satisfied employees will be likely to prioritise growth, development, and lifelong learning.  

Positive Emotion

Positive emotion transcends happiness – including hope, satisfaction, and sustained interest in their contributions. There are various ways to learn these positive emotions and apply them in professional settings – generally raising workplace resilience

Employers can inspire positive emotion by providing workers with work-life balance and opportunities to do what they enjoy. These may range from a vacation to the Bahamas to a session of karaoke. The unifying goal is for employees to rest, recharge, and maintain a sense of confidence. 


According to psychologist Donald O. Clifton, each individual possesses a unique combination of strengths and talents. Additionally, by focusing on innate strengths, employees remain engaged and committed in their roles. Organisational leaders need to identify the individual strengths of employees and assign them to their respective job fits. 

Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies have applied the CliftonStrengths (Clifton StrengthsFinder) method in establishing strength-based workplaces. 

While traditional training concepts favoured going against the grain and creating all-rounded learners, these resulted in resistance and disengagement. By encouraging employees to embrace their strengths, they can transform something they are naturally good at into extraordinary performance.  


Workplace relationships can make or break an organisation. Working in silos, toxic work culture, and other antisocial practices will compromise collaborative efforts and create unnecessary conflict that strains productivity.  

Employers should devote some time to organising team-building activities such as LSP (Lego Serious Play) workshops and company retreats. Leaders may consider inviting employees for friendly sporting events, providing the additional advantage of improving physical wellness. 

Positive workplace relationships enable workers to feel at ease while receiving the emotional support and appreciation to do their best work without fear of blame or judgement.


Meaning in PERMA refers to a sense of purposeful contribution. Workers generally prefer positions and opportunities where they can view the result of their efforts. Roles in the modern workplace should serve more than as a means of earning a paycheck. 

Employees seek mentoring opportunities, career progression, and empowerment in the decision-making process. Meaning keeps employees enthusiastic and engaged in their tasks and negates the monotony of the grind. 


While meaning/purpose carries great significance to employees, they may still desire tangible accomplishments. A strong sense of accomplishment requires seamless goal-setting from the get-go. In terms of training and development, employees should receive the transparency to understand the purpose of each attended module, seminar, and workshop. 

Rather than simply receiving certification at the end of a course, workers should learn how to implement the lessons acquired to take the organisation forward. Additionally, accomplishments may include valuing the creativity and output of an employee in shaping business intelligence and organisational strategy. 

The Role of Employers in Promoting Positive Psychology

Additionally, Seligman identified three facets of positive psychologypositive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. A truly satisfied individual needs to fulfill all three aspects.

For positive emotions, leaders need to understand the fears, concerns, and doubts of employees. These may relate to past, existing, and future events. For example, leaders should check in on employee sentiments regarding the new normal and its radical changes to work-life arrangements. 

Positive individual traits require leaders to identify employee strengths and weaknesses and provide them with the most suitable training programs. While individual workers need to recognise and refine the various traits within them, employers can help enhance the process with constant encouragement and learning opportunities. 

The final aspect, positive institutions, involves teamwork, tolerance, mutual responsibility, and community spirit. Leaders need to become the gel that holds teams and departments together as they face an increasingly uncertain world. 

Once leaders have maintained positive psychology among workers, they can offer a series of on-the-job training and expect improved responses. While VUCA and the rapidly moving digital world may bring copious stress and fears, positive psychology will help your employees stay laser-focused, driven, and determined to constantly better themselves. 

StrengthsAsia has helped many individuals and corporate clients empower leaders throughout the region by enabling breakthrough experiences for both leaders and followers. If you wish to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, please reach out to us here.

Maalikka is the latest addition to StrengthsAsia’s team of marketing and content extraordinaries. As an avid reader, writer and learner, she’s always on the lookout for new information online or interesting conversations to inspire her. Her other passions include gaming, Netflix and cats.

A devotee at the altar of language and a celebrant of expression. Laurenzo has written for various SMEs, MNCs, startups and international brands over the last three years. He specializes in topics of psychology, lifestyle, employee management, and digital trends.

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