Creative geniuses seem to go hand-in-hand with tortured souls, but one ad agency is trying to change the way their creatives work and think with the help of “positive psychology.” Havas Worldwide London is working with professor and psychologist Neil Frude, who runs a company called The Happiness Consultancy, to train its employees to become happier as a means of boosting creativity.
“There is a strong relationship between employee happiness and a workforce that is productive, creative, and flourishing,” Frude said.
It all turns into a cycle of sorts, since creative satisfaction will produce uplifting emotions. This effect becomes contagious to an entire group of people, not always necessarily just in the workforce.
“Positive psychology is about playing to strengths — enhancing positive emotions, rather than the old approach of using psychology to fix problems,” Frude said. “How we are using it is to demonstrate skills that help boost an individual’s sense of well-being — for example, ways of building resilience, or becoming more positive, or better managing your emotions in a positive direction by understanding what boosts or rewards you can give yourself to generate a positive emotional uplift.”
Managing emotions, and the ability to manage the emotions of other people, are skills that are useful in any type of workforce. Especially for those in leadership positions, as managing emotions can become an integral part of their role. It is this ability to manage emotions that pushed Havas Worldwide London’s CEO Russ Lidstone to experiment with positive psychology.
“Advertising is a business built on developing ideas where 80 percent of those ideas will end up cut,” Lidstone said. “This makes it a tough environment to work in, made tougher still by economic conditions and a rapidly changing media landscape. The net effect can be greater stress, which is why resilience is an increasingly important factor for success.”
By the end of the year, Lindstone will have every one of the 240 employees at Havas Worldwide London undergo a four-week course run by Frude in positive psychology. Each session is two hours long and will provide employees with techniques they can bring into the workplace themselves. The following week, they report back with how things went.
“When times are tough, there can be a tendency to focus most on what needs improving,” Lindstone said. “What I’ve been trying to do is create a more positive framework for feedback within the agency — taking time to ask what’s good that’s been achieved today and to recognize and bolster employees and colleagues.”
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