How to Incorporate Positive Affirmations in Workplace Engagement

Are you looking to increase workplace engagement but not sure where to start?

Well, no one’s going to complain if they receive an employee retention bonus, of course. So you could do that and hope for the best. But let’s face it: budgets don’t always allow for it, and even if they do – a one-off payment won’t do anything to actively change workplace culture.

One move you might consider making is encouraging staff to use positive affirmations to help improve their everyday work experience. This article will explain these and give a few top tips on using them.

What Are Positive Affirmations?

Loved by self-help gurus everywhere, positive affirmations are short phrases you repeat to yourself regularly to boost your confidence. The idea is that using them will break you out of negative thought patterns and increase your self-esteem. In turn, this can help you accomplish tasks you may find otherwise overwhelming.

Effective affirmations tend to be short but focused:

  • I deserve good things
  • I am doing an excellent job today
  • I am going to nail this presentation
  • I feel excited about sharing my insights with colleagues
  • I feel calm about making the deadline

They tend to fall into two broad categories: phrases you repeat to yourself every day to build up your mental and emotional resilience generally, and phrases you may use only in the short term to psych yourself up to meet a particular goal. 

To help you get a clear idea of how to create and deliver positive affirmations, it's a good idea to watch a pre-recorded webinar on the subject.

Positive Affirmations in the Workplace

Employee retention is a hot topic these days. The so-called Great Resignation has been hitting workplaces hard, and it’s more important than ever to ensure your employees feel engaged. While positive affirmations are never going to replace a good salary or exciting, challenging work as motivations to commit to the job, they can have their place in fostering a more supportive working environment.

For example, you may use the best conference call service available for remote meetings, but that’s no good if your employees feel too inhibited to share their ideas. Encouraging staff to share their thoughts is essential, of course, but introducing the concept of positive affirmations and encouraging your staff to spend a few minutes beforehand repeating their mantras to themselves could work even better. 

Although affirmations won’t change anything fundamental about who you are in the short term, they can help you move toward a more confident future. They work by challenging negative thought patterns about yourself and your abilities. In fact, in one sense, they could be seen as a kind of productivity hack. As your self-belief grows, you become a more effective worker partly because you expect to succeed.

For example, let’s suppose you find you have trouble hitting deadlines. The odd missed deadline here and there can easily happen in a fast-paced work environment where there always seem to be a hundred tasks to finish every day. 

But do it often enough, and it starts to weigh down your self-belief. You can perceive it as a character trait in yourself. “I regularly blow through deadlines” can be the kind of niggling subconscious thought that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as you start to sink under the overwhelm.

This is where a positive affirmation can come in useful. Sure, repeating a mantra to yourself will not in and of itself organize your workload or help you prioritize. Nevertheless, getting into the habit of repeating to yourself a message like “I am confident I will finish my to-do list today” or “step by step, I will accomplish my goals” can help interrupt the negative thoughts and set you on the right track.

You could see this as a bit like writing a shout-out to yourself. And who doesn’t love a shout-out? So let’s take a deeper look at how to use this technique to help meet your goals.

How to Use Positive Affirmations Effectively

There are a few things to remember when using affirmations. It doesn’t matter whether you get inspiration from others or write your original mantras. Either way, some will work better than others, so choose well.

They should be personal to you

One of the most crucial aspects of affirmations is that they must be directly relevant to you personally. You have to connect with what you’re saying or else it’s unlikely to work. This is one reason it can be helpful to write your own, although it’s understandable if you’re unsure where to begin. 

A good starting point is to think about those moments in the day that feel particularly challenging. What tasks make you feel uncomfortable in some way? Try to capture that feeling and write an affirmation that defiantly says the opposite. This way, the phrase you use will be immediately appropriate.

It has to be task-relevant as well. If you’re working on newsletter optimization and you’re stuck for ideas, there’s no point using general affirmations like “I deserve to be well rewarded” or “I am brave enough to face my fears”. Instead, choose something practical like “I am highly methodical and excel at focusing on detail”.

What all this means is that if you’re thinking about encouraging your employees to start using affirmations in the workplace, you need to remember that one size will not fit all. What you shouldn’t be doing is posting a list of compulsory daily affirmations for everyone to use. 

It might be tempting to get everyone to chant something like “I will surpass my sales targets today” at 9 am each morning, but it won’t work – and your staff will probably roll their eyes - which is very much the opposite of the engagement you’re hoping to promote.

Effective affirmations are specific

People have individual needs and as a result, positive affirmations should be specific to the individual and the circumstance. 

They shouldn’t run on too long, though – you should be able to fit them into a single business messaging SMS without the recipient having to scroll down on their phone.

Choose a phrase that tackles particular issues head-on and ensure it’s well-defined. For instance, “every day I feel more confident” is a bit loosey-goosey as an affirmation. A far more effective one could be “I feel confident to share my ideas with my colleagues because I know they are good ones”.

Write affirmations as if they’re already real

The best way to frame affirmations is as if they’re true now. In other words, if you’re writing your own, don’t phrase them as if they haven’t happened yet. If you want to feel more confident about making presentations, say, don’t write “I will be confident in making my presentation”. Instead, write “I am confident in delivering presentations because I am well prepared” or something similar. Make it about the present, not the future.

This factor feeds into the idea that positive affirmations should fit the individual as well. Someone who’s tasked with investigating how to build an affiliate program will face different challenges from someone making a pitch in front of potential new clients. It’s also worth considering that people often end up in distinct roles because their personalities vary, and they are attracted to job roles that suit their characters.

So what seems believably real to one person might not seem so to another. And it’s at this point I need to give a caveat about how you implement a culture of positive affirmations in your workplace.

A Note of Caution

No article about positive affirmations would be complete without noting that the concept is not universally accepted. Indeed, many professional psychologists caution that for some individuals, it can be actively harmful if done in the wrong way.

What can happen is that someone chooses an affirmation completely at odds with their subconscious belief about themselves. If that’s the case, no matter how often you repeat “I am confident in my work and I get results”, you won’t feel more confident. In the end, it can make you feel worse because it won’t work, and you’ll end up thinking “I can’t even get positive affirmations right – what a loser I am.”

It’s crucial to avoid this outcome. You want to increase workforce engagement, not drive people away.

So it’s vital to remember that encouraging positive affirmations in the workplace is not a simple business process like choosing between VoIP systems or developing a new product. We’re talking about people here.

Take the time to consider how you will implement it so you get the best results. For starters, repeating positive affirmations should never be mandatory for every employee. Some people find them helpful, and some people don’t – and that’s okay.

You might consider setting up a virtual space where people can choose to come to discuss their thoughts about using positive affirmations. Provide resources and links to materials explaining the concept so that your staff can use them if they wish. Just as you might provide a sample agency agreement for employees as a guide to follow, so you can do something similar for those interested in getting on board with positive affirmations.

You’ve Got This!

Ultimately, many people find positive affirmations work better than they expected to help them meet their goals. So it’s worth considering as a way of increasing engagement.

A few well-chosen phrases repeated regularly can do wonders for your employees’ self-esteem. And when your staff feels confident and productive, that’s great news for the bottom line. So why not test the waters and find out what positive affirmations could do for your workplace today?

Jessica Day - Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad

Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts for both company and client campaigns with the help of sales coaching techniques. She has also written for domains such as Award Force and PayTabs. Here is her LinkedIn.

Danica Holdaway

Danica Holdaway is a 10-year marriage veteran with three little girls. She loves marking each and every holiday and anniversary in the most extra way possible. She’s passionate about making everyday life special and bringing people together. Especially using food.