survive a toxic workplace - 4

What lies at the heart of workplace well-being?

By Miemie van Loggerenberg

At the heart of workplace well-being lies a concept coined by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. They used the term “inner work life” to describe the psychological experience of a person at work. In the book “The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work,” they define inner work life as “the mix of emotions, motivations, and perceptions that individuals experience as they react to and make sense of the events in their workday.” In other words, it is your internal psychological and emotional experiences while working. Inner work life is a critical component of your well-being and productivity.

You experience a sense of engagement, motivation, and meaning when you have a positive inner work life. You will be more productive, creative, and committed to your job. However, when you have a negative inner work life, you will feel disengaged, demotivated, and unfulfilled. This can lead to decreased productivity, burnout, and absenteeism.

Inner work life is vital to organizations as well. It affects employee productivity, creativity, and commitment to their jobs. Employees with positive inner work lives are more productive, creative, and committed. This leads to better performance, higher levels of customer satisfaction, and increased profitability for the organization.

In this article, we will discuss the following points:

  1. The Effects of inner work life in the Workplace
  2. Factors Influencing Inner Work Life
  3. The Power of Constructive Feedback and Recognition
  4. Autonomy and Social Support
  5. Case studies
  6. The final question is: What is the state of your inner work life? Do you feel valued and respected? Are you motivated and creative?

So, let us look at the effects of positive and negative inner work life on you and your organization

1 The effects of inner work life on workplace well-being

The state of your inner work life does not only affect you but also the organization you work for.

Positive inner work life

The following are some of the effects of a positive inner work life:

Increased motivation: You will be more motivated and engaged with a positive inner work life. Hence, it will lead to increased productivity and better performance.

Better mental health: A positive inner work life improves mental health. You will experience lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Greater job satisfaction: You will have greater job satisfaction when you have a positive inner work life. The result is lower turnover rates and increased loyalty to the organization.

More creativity: Positive inner work lives stimulate creativity and innovation. It leads to innovative ideas and solutions that can benefit the organization. Additionally, you will feel more fulfilled.

Higher levels of commitment: Employees with positive inner work lives are more likely to be committed to their jobs and the organization, leading to better performance and increased profitability.

We will now look at the effects of employees with a negative inner work-life experience.

Negative inner work life

workplace well-being

Decreased motivation: You will be less motivated and engaged with a negative inner work life. For that reason, you will be less productive and display lower work performance.

Poor mental health: A negative inner work life can contribute to poor mental health, including higher stress levels, anxiety, and depression.

Lower job satisfaction: You will be less satisfied with a negative inner work life. It will lead to reduced loyalty to the organization and even increased turnover rates.

Decreased creativity: Negative inner work lives can stifle creativity and innovation and lead to a lack of innovative ideas and solutions.

Lower levels of commitment: You are less likely to be committed to your job and the organization if you have a negative inner work life. It will lead to lower performance and reduced profitability.

Therefore, promoting positive inner work lives significantly impacts employee workplace well-being and productivity. It leads to a more engaged and committed workforce and a more successful organization. Research on inner work life has shown that several factors influence it. So, let us look at some factors.

2 Factors influencing inner work life and workplace well-being

A variety of factors influence inner work life. Let us look at how these factors can impact your inner work life.

a) Job satisfaction

Job satisfaction describes how satisfied you are with your job. It includes tasks, responsibilities, and overall work experience. When happy with your job, you have a positive inner work life. You will feel engaged, motivated, and fulfilled in your work. In contrast, you may have a negative inner work life if you are dissatisfied with your job. You may be feeling disengaged, demotivated, and unfulfilled.

b) Motivation

Motivation refers to your drive to accomplish your work tasks and achieve your goals. When you are motivated, you feel energized, focused, and committed to your work. This results in a positive inner work life. However, you need motivation to have a positive inner work life and feel energized, satisfied, and fulfilled.

c) Work environment

The work environment denotes the physical, social, and cultural context in which you work. A positive work environment can contribute to positive inner work lives. You will feel comfortable, supported, and valued at work. A hostile work environment, on the other hand, can contribute to negative inner work lives. Instead, you will feel stressed, anxious, and unsupported.

workplace well-being

d) Relationships with colleagues

The relationships that you have with your colleagues can have a significant impact on your inner work lives and, therefore, on your workplace well-being. Positive relationships with colleagues contribute to a positive inner work life, and you will feel supported, respected, and valued by your colleagues. In contrast, negative relationships with colleagues can contribute to a negative inner work life. You may feel isolated, disrespected, and undervalued.

e) Relationship with managers and supervisors

The relationship with a supervisor or manager significantly impacts inner work life. Positive relationships with supervisors can contribute to positive inner work lives. In this case, you will feel supported, encouraged, and valued by your supervisor. On the other hand, you will feel disrespected, unsupported, and undervalued when you have a negative relationship with your supervisor or manager.

It’s important to note that these factors can interact, and a positive or negative influence in one area can also affect others. For example, a positive work environment might contribute to positive relationships with colleagues and a positive relationship with a supervisor. This, in turn, can contribute to job satisfaction and motivation.

We are now going to discuss two very important factors in shaping the inner life work of individuals in organizations:

  • The Power of Constructive Feedback and Recognition
  • Autonomy and Social Support

3 The power of constructive feedback and recognition

Feedback and recognition are crucial in shaping employees’ inner work lives. It enhances workplace well-being. Here are some reasons why:

Firstly, constructive feedback allows you to learn from mistakes and improve your performance. When you receive constructive feedback, you feel supported and encouraged to continue developing your skills and abilities, leading to a positive inner work life.

In the second place, recognition fosters a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment. Receiving an award for your hard work and achievements provides a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It also helps promote a positive work environment and improve team morale.

Thirdly, feedback and recognition enhance your motivation to perform well. When you receive feedback and recognition, you feel valued and appreciated. It leads to a positive inner work life and increases your motivation to continue performing at an elevated level.

In the fourth place, it contributes to job satisfaction. An employee whose work is recognized and valued tends to be more satisfied with her job. You may feel undervalued and dissatisfied with your job when your contributions are not recognized or appreciated.

Lastly, recognition and constructive feedback promote communication and collaboration. It encourages communication and cooperation among colleagues. This can help build positive relationships and foster community, leading to a positive inner work life.

Since supplying constructive feedback and recognition have positive outcomes, organizations will benefit if they use it to create a positive work environment. So let us look at some examples of providing effective feedback and recognition.

workplace well-being

Best ways to give constructive feedback and recognition

Be specific: Feedback and recognition should be detailed and focused on the performance or behaviour. For example, instead of saying, “Great job,” I should rather say, “I really appreciate the way you managed that difficult customer.”

Provide prompt feedback: Feedback should be as close to the event as possible. This allows for making changes and improvements quickly and reinforces positive behaviour. Waiting too long makes it less effective.

Offer constructive feedback: Effective feedback is constructive and aimed at improving performance. It should not be punitive or focused on blame. Instead, focus on specific areas for improvement and offer suggestions for improvement.

Use various recognition methods: Recognition can take many forms, like verbal praise, a handwritten note, or a small gift. People respond differently to ways of recognition. Therefore, it is essential to use various methods to ensure that everyone feels appreciated.

Make recognition public: Public recognition can be a powerful motivator. Consider recognizing individuals in front of colleagues at a team meeting or in a company-wide email. This can help build a positive culture of recognition and encourage others to strive for excellence.

Provide growth opportunities: Employees want to know that their hard work is leading somewhere. Providing opportunities for growth and advancement can be a powerful form of recognition. Create individualized development plans to reach goals and advance careers.

Solicit feedback from colleagues: Be open to receiving feedback from others. This helps understand what is working well and what could be improved. Encouraging a culture of open communication and feedback can help build trust and lead to a positive work environment.

4 Autonomy and social support

Autonomy and social support are crucial factors in promoting positive inner work lives. This is how they can contribute to workplace well-being:

Autonomy: Autonomy refers to your ability to control your work and how you complete it. When you have this freedom, you take ownership and responsibility for your work. It leads to a positive inner work life. Autonomy can also lead to greater job satisfaction and motivation, empowering you to make decisions that affect your work.

Social support: Social support refers to the emotional and instrumental support you receive from colleagues and managers. Feeling supported makes you more likely to have a positive inner work life. Social support can also help to cope with stress and challenges in the workplace. It leads to greater resilience and job satisfaction.

So, how can you support autonomy and foster an encouraging work environment?

How to support autonomy and foster a healthy social environment

Encourage input and participation: Involve colleagues in decision-making processes and allow them to provide feedback on their work. It gives a sense of ownership and control over the outcome.

Provide training and development opportunities: It helps individuals to develop the skills they need to take on more responsibility and exercise greater autonomy in their work.

Offer flexible work arrangements: Working remotely with flexible schedules provides greater autonomy over work and allows for balancing work and personal lives.

Foster a culture of support and collaboration: Encourage teamwork and provide opportunities to connect and collaborate. It helps everybody to feel supported and valued, leading to a positive inner work life.

Provide emotional and instrumental support: Be approachable and supportive during stressful and challenging times. Instrumental support can be provided through technology, training, and other tools that can help complete work more effectively.

Supporting autonomy and fostering a supportive work environment impacts inner work lives, contributing to a more successful organization.

We are now going to look at two case studies.

5 Case studies


Google is well-known for its employee-friendly work environment and focuses on employee workplace well-being. The company offers a range of benefits. Some include flexible work hours, free meals, on-site healthcare, and personal and professional development opportunities. Google encourages employee autonomy and creativity. Employees can work on projects that interest them and be free to experiment and take risks.

For Google, these strategies have helped the company attract and retain top talent in the highly competitive tech industry. The company’s focus on employee autonomy and creativity has also led to developing innovative products and services, contributing to its success and reputation as an industry leader.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is known for its strong company culture and focus on employee satisfaction. The company offers a range of benefits like profit sharing, retirement plans, and opportunities for career advancement. Southwest also encourages employee engagement and collaboration. They provide opportunities for employees to share their ideas and contribute to the company’s success.

The airline’s focus on employee satisfaction and engagement has helped the company build a strong brand and reputation in the airline industry. Their emphasis on a supportive work environment and opportunities for career advancement has led to high employee retention rates and a committed workforce. It contributed to its success and profitability.

6 Conclusion

We cannot over-emphasize creating a positive inner work life to enhance workplace well-being, job satisfaction, and productivity. We have the power to influence inner work lives. Therefore, it is essential to make a conscious effort to implement strategies that promote positivity in the workplace.

And now I wonder: What is the state of your inner work life? Do you feel valued and respected? Are you motivated and creative? Please let us know in the comments below.


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