SUCCESS Materials – English

Character Strengths – Theoretical Background – Research Findings Relating to Employability & Workplace Outcomes

Research Findings relating Character Strengths to Employability, Workplace Outcomes & Career Counselling

According to Robertson (2017), there are reasons to believe that character strengths are relevant to career development. For example, Littman-Ovadia & Davidovitch (2010) found that the development of character strengths was related to personal well-being and job satisfaction, and was mediating the relationship between academic studies and choice of occupation.

Robertson (2017) stresses that positive assessment tools (which focus on the identification and building of one’s talents and abilities) may bring something distinctive to a career education and guidance setting. Some widely utilised tools of this nature include the Strengths Quest (Clifton, Anderson & Schreiner, 2006) and Values In Action Institute Inventory of Strengths (VAI-IS, Peterson & Seligman, 2004) tool. By using the aforementioned tools, researchers identified perseverance as a key indicator of work performance. Furthermore, tools such as those described above are likely to be necessary to sustain successful careers in the long term. In common with occupational interest inventories, strength assessments are unthreatening to feedback, an appealing feature in tools used for development purposes (Littman-Ovadia & Lavy,2016).

In career counselling sessions, the focus on positive strengths may be to boost self-esteem, reduce resistance to change and motivate action (Yates, 2013). Several studies highlighted that the implementation of individual “signature” strengths are related to overall positive experiences like life satisfaction, well-being, and meaning in life (Littman, Ovadia & Steger 2010; Seligman et al. 2005; Wood et al. 2011). Such findings suggest that positive experiences in the work environment would be present, once the individual’s signature strengths are applied at work.

A study by Harzer & Ruch (2013) revealed that the higher number of signature strengths applied at the workplace setting, the highest was the presence of positive experiences at work. This result reflects the need of applying character strengths in workplace environments, in general irrespectively of their content. Character strengths activities at the workplace are important for the presence of positive experiences at work, like job satisfaction, pleasure, engagement, and meaning.

Strengths assessments, though, cannot offer precise occupational recommendations, but rather highly potential career choices (Klimka & Budzińska, 2015), which can form the starting point for conversations around personal and professional growth (Robertson, 2015).  Once an individual’s signature strengths have been identified, then said individual can be encouraged to practice them and to seek situations and ways to expand them through work or personal related settings. Dik et al (2015), claim that the development of character strengths promotes well-being in the work context and is associated with experiencing work as meaningful.

In a study assessing the value of positive psychology’s contribution to career education and guidance, Robertson (2017) concluded that positive psychology offers a source of varied innovative approaches to career counselling, such as the identification of strengths and the promotion of positive feelings and orientations to the future. Also, he claims that positive psychology has generated assessment tools, which may provoke useful reflective discussions with clients (e.g. students, young professionals).