Don’t underestimate the remarkable power of hope in the workplace, new meQ survey says

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As a counterpoint to the extremely high numbers of employees experiencing pessimism in its winter 2023 Workforce Wellbeing Survey, meQuilibrium (meQ) investigated a positive emotion–hope–in its latest research. The new survey of 5,989 adults released today, which examines persistent burnout, stress, quiet quitting, and turnover, found that hope–the combination of optimism and self-efficacy–is a powerful emotion that can protect employees from pessimism and negativity.

The power of hope

Hope is a powerful positive force that can greatly enhance employee wellbeing. Employees with the highest levels of hope are 74% less likely to suffer from burnout, 74% less likely to suffer from anxiety, and 75% less likely to suffer from depression, meQ’s research found. Hope also reduces the risk of quiet quitting and turnover, with the most hopeful employees being 33% less likely to endorse quiet quitting than the least hopeful employees. Turnover intent is cut in half (49% less) among the most hopeful employees.

Resilience as a key driver of hope

“Our study identified resilience as the key driver of hope,” said Brad Smith, PhD., Chief Science Officer, meQuilibrium. “The data show that it is not just resilience writ large, but specific cognitive characteristics–positivity, self-efficacy, and problem solving–that underlie a strong sense of hope. Organisations that focus on cultivating these characteristics can achieve remarkable gains in employee wellbeing.”

Resilience as a remedy for burnout and stress

In addition to serving as a key driver of hope, resilience emerged as a remedy for burnout, stress, quiet quitting, and turnover. The key drivers of positivity, self-efficacy, and problem-solving boost hope-driven, goal-directed behavior by 50-85%. Compared to the least resilient respondents, the most resilient employees showed 70+% reductions in the risk of anxiety, depression, and burnout.

The role of belonging

Belonging also showed powerful protective effects. Employees with a strong sense of belonging face substantially reduced risks of burnout (-10.1%), anxiety (-19.9%), and depression (-19.9%). However, only half (50.6%) of those surveyed felt a strong sense of connection with work colleagues.

Managerial support and employee wellbeing

Furthermore, managers play a pivotal role in employee wellbeing. More than eight in ten (84.1%) employees with strong manager support feel respected and valued by teammates, compared to only 53% with weak manager support.

Conclusion

“This study, along with our previous scientific research, continue to demonstrate the vital roles of resilience and strong managers in fostering a thriving workforce,” said Dr. Smith. “Now that we have identified hope and belonging as powerful forces in significantly enhancing employee well-being, engagement, productivity, and retention, it’s crucial that we empower employees with a sense of hope and belonging which will enable them to better cope with stress, overcome obstacles, and find meaning in their work.”

Methodology

Approximately 5,989 employed adults participated in meQ’s scientific study of hope, belonging, and resilience. The study used the Locus of Hope scale to identify the least to most hopeful groups in determining the part hope plays in burnout, anxiety, and depression. This is meQ’s 5th year of biannual wellbeing trends research reports, which examine wellbeing trends among thousands of employees across a variety of industries, allowing us to take the pulse of the workplace on the hot topics of the day.

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