Looking ahead, business owners see some clouds, but staying positive can help weather the storm.
According to a recent survey, business owners are less optimistic about the employment and economic outlook than they were last year. On a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the highest level of optimism, owners’ overall business outlook is six points lower in 2019. Respondents rated their optimism at 71 points in 2018 and 65 in 2019. Their confidence in the country’s economy is down three points from 65 to 62.
Confidence in other areas is down as well:
· Ability to raise wages: down 10 points to 41/100
· Ability to make capital investments: down nine points to 53/100
· Ability to fill open positions with qualified candidates today: down eight points to 43/100
· Overall regulatory environment: down three points to 50/100
· Access to capital: down one point to 64/100
While optimism alone doesn’t make things better, there is some evidence regarding the power of positivity to improve performance. At the same time, pervasive negativity can have a detrimental effect on employees’ emotional well-being, creative thinking, and innovation. It also drains people’s energy and interferes with team building and relationships.
HR can help promote optimism without misleading staff or perpetuating misperceptions or unrealistic expectations. Among the keys: show gratitude, recognize people’s skills/strengths/talents, use positive messaging, celebrate even small victories, involve staff in promoting/supporting the organization’s mission, and encourage employees to participate in continuing education, training programs, and other opportunities to gain new skills and abilities.
Of course, it is important for HR and other team leaders to model optimism. Studies suggest that optimistic leaders generally outperform negative ones, most likely because of their coping and problem-solving skills. Want to know how optimistic you are? Take a quick survey to find out. While this is not a scientific tool, the higher you score, the more optimistic you likely are.