In order to have fun at work, employees need to find jobs that match their character, new research finds.
A study by researchers at the University of Zurich suggests that a job is particularly valued if it suits one's own signature strengths, including — morally positive character traits like self-control, teamwork or kindness.
The study's authors, Claudia Harzer and Professor Willibald Ruch, said most people typically have between three and seven signature strengths, and noted that workplace experiences, including satisfaction with the job and a fulfilled sense of purpose, will be most positive for employees who draw on those strengths.
The research was based on two separate studies, the first of which surveyed 1,000 workers about the manifestation of their character strengths, whether they are able to apply these strengths at work and how positive they feel about their work experience. In the second study, the researchers analyzed how the test subjects' co-workers rate the applicability of their peers' character strengths.
The studies found that people who are able to apply four or more signature strengths at the job enjoy work more, are more wrapped up in it, perceive their work as more meaningful and are more satisfied with their job. In addition, they perceive their work more as a calling than people who aren't able to apply as many signature strengths.
The researchers said the ability to apply character strengths at work depends in part on the job description and the relevance of strength-related behavior in carrying out the work.
Harzer and Ruch believe their findings provide insights that might be useful for the selection of employees, human resources development and workplace design.
"If it is clarified which character strengths are central for the job before a position is filled, a person can be recruited based on these strengths," Harzer said. "Employers and employees only stand to benefit from this."
The research is scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies.
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