The Power of Psychological Capital in Creating a Positive Work Culture

by Apr 27, 2023

Have you ever pondered why some individuals seem to flourish in tough situations while others flounder? It’s likely due to their high level of psychological capital, also known as “PsyCap.”

Researchers in the field of positive psychology have even coined the term Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) to describe this phenomenon. Where some may develop symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) others in the same situation develop “symptoms” of PTG (e.g., reporting more appreciation for life and greater inner strength).

If psychological capital is a key to getting through hard times, focusing on it in the workplace seems like a great idea to me. I’m talking about the mental resources that people and businesses can employ to enhance their well-being and performance.


What is Psychological Capital?

Psychological capital consists of four key resources: self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resilience. Let’s break them down:

  • Self-efficacy

It’s all about having the confidence to strut your stuff! Self-efficacy, or the belief in your ability to tackle a task, is key to employee success. 

One way to move people towards self-efficacy is to ensure managers are equipped to help their employees develop SMART stretch goals. If employees have challenges that feel just a bit out of reach, with the right support they can achieve it and feel that sense of self-efficacy. In other words, people need to be appropriately challenged given their level, role, resources and time frame to complete a task. 

When your team feels sure of themselves, they’re more likely to take on new challenges and knock them out of the park – because they believe they can. 


  • Optimism 

Its more than just a positive attitude; it’s an unwavering belief that good things will happen in the future and even in the face of adversity. Encouraging optimism in the workplace can help employees stay motivated and resilient in the face of setbacks, leading to better outcomes for both employees and the organization.

One way to move people towards optimism is to ensure managers are not only demonstrating the right attitude themselves, but holding the team accountable to it. If one team member is constantly complaining, for example, it’s hard for others to be optimistic and the employee with the poor attitude needs some coaching. Unfortunately, in our experience employers aren’t training managers how to coach on these seemingly minor problems that are actually quite damaging and insidious. Don’t be one of those employers. (Call us please.)


  • Hope

People with hope believe they can shape their future for the better, no matter what challenges they face. Hopeful people engage in “pathway thinking” – plotting out their course to success, and “agency thinking” – initiating actions along that course. With each achievement, their belief that they have control over their future (and their self-efficacy) grows.

Managers can help their teams build hope by collaborating on problem solving for tough situations or problems. If the group can see a way through a problem with a client project, for example, and little by little execute their plan, then you’re helping them build hope. When your team is armed with hope, they’ll charge into battle (aka work) with renewed energy and determination to make a difference.


  • Resilience 

Refers to an individual’s ability to bounce back from setbacks and adversity. It’s not just returning to one’s old self pre-adversity (like a rubber band bouncing back to normal when stretched), however, it also involves profound personal growth. In other words, if you’re resilient you’re a better version of yourself when the adversity is finally overcome.

Resilient employees of course can recover from stress and setbacks more quickly than those who are less resilient, and are better able to adapt to change and deal with prolonged periods of stress. 

One story of psychological capital comes from our very own CEO, Catherine Mattice. Check out her 6-minute jaw-dropping story of near-death here.


How to Leverage Psychological Capital for a Positive Work Culture

So, we’ve got the lowdown on psychological capital—but how can we harness its power to foster a thriving work environment? Glad you asked! Here are some tips and tricks to put PsyCap to work:


Provide Social Support

Foster a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and connected. Encourage social interactions, provide opportunities for team building and bonding, and create a safe and inclusive space where employees can be themselves.

To foster connection within Civility Partners, we created our own standing virtual office so that when remote employees “come to work” they can say hi, chit chat, and discuss their plans for the weekend rather than feeling so isolated. Think of it as a cozy, virtual hangout where we can come and go as we please for lunch, meetings, or if we just need some time to get something done. It’s like the ultimate online watercooler, where we can chat about anything from work to the latest fashion trends.

By providing a space for our team members to connect with one another, we’re fostering a supportive work environment where employees feel like they’re part of a big, happy team. Who said work couldn’t be fun?


Build Resilience

Help your employees build resilience by providing them with the tools and resources they need to cope with stress and adversity. Such as:

  • Offering mental health support
  • Encouraging self-care practices
  • Providing training on stress-management

We offer a variety of training programs customized to your organization’s needs. We’re all about positive work culture, so our training programs are tailored for everything from managing individual stress to meeting larger organizational goals. Check out our most popular courses here, though we offer many more.


Recognize and Celebrate Achievements 

Studies show that showing appreciation is vital to creating an engaged and loyal workforce. 

To make your employees feel like the stars of the show, shower them with recognition and celebration to boost their self-efficacy and hope. It’s also important to create a culture of gratitude and positivity because a little bit of appreciation can go a long way in making your team feel valued and motivated.

And of course, rewards and recognition should have a strong communication plan with your workforce so your employees will know more about them. Check out Catherine’s LinkedIn Learning course, Communicating Employee Rewards. We’ve made it free for you for 24 hours!



Psychological capital is like a superpower for building an amazing work culture. By fostering self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resilience, you can help your employees thrive and achieve their goals. And hey, don’t be afraid to add a dash of humor and fun to the mix – a little laughter can go a long way in creating a workplace that people actually want to be a part of!

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can assist your organization, simply CLICK HERE to connect with us, and let’s get in touch!



Catherine, Jenny & The Civility Partners Team

Civility is the platform for organizational success—it is absolutely necessary for an organization to reach its goals. Download our Ebook on Seeking Civility to learn more on how to create a workplace free of bullying and abusive conduct.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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