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Exploring Positive Emotions in the Midst of Work-Related Stress: An Exploratory Study of Resilience in the Workplace Open Access

Abstract of the DissertationExploring Positive Emotions in the Midst of Work–Related Stress: An Exploratory Study of Resilience in the WorkplaceAs managers implement changes to respond to environmental forces, the corresponding increase in work–related stress threatens the health of both employees and organizations. Historically, a significant amount of valuable research has been devoted to examining this phenomenon from the perspective of distress and its associated negative emotions and harmful consequences. Much less research has examined the adaptational significance of positive emotions in the midst of work–related stress. Thus, this qualitative study aimed to explore the adaptational significance of positive emotions in achieving resilience from work–related stress.All 54 employees of a customized logistics and delivery company located in the Western United States were provided the opportunity to participate in the study. Thirty–three employees took part in a survey to determine resilience scores and the presence of work–related stress in order to identify a sample of 18 participants for in-depth interviews.Results indicated that positive emotions do make a significant contribution to achieving resilience in the workplace. Through analysis of the interviews, seven findings contributed to four study conclusions: 1. Being primarily an individual endeavor, building resilience requires individuals to utilize their internal and external resources to persevere in taking actions that ensure successful adaptation.2. No one is invulnerable. Resilience does not mean stress–resistant.3. Positive emotions not only have adaptational significance in building resilience, but also reinforce employees' abilities to (a) influence the outcome of their respective situations and (b) use organizational change in ways that benefit their growth and development through the harnessing of both positive and negative emotions.4. Coping strategies based on positive emotions are not magic bullets for producing resilience. Sometimes they produce unintended consequences.Because of the benefits they gained from positive emotions, employees were more focused and productive on the job, made better decisions, and were better prepared to meet the challenges of their demanding workplace.

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