How to Build a Thriving Workplace: A Leader's Guide

Course No. 9648
Professor Beth Cabrera, PhD
George Mason University
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Course No. 9648
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Understand how and why employee well-being directly affects productivity.
  • numbers Reveal the power of mindfulness training to improve your life and your employees' lives.
  • numbers See how, as a leader, your emotions affect your business' bottom line.

Course Overview

Recent studies reveal that employee well-being is associated with higher productivity, higher retention rates, and lower health-care costs. Multiple studies show a clear link between businesses that attend to employee well-being and a profitable bottom line.

In fact, the profit of companies with the strongest focus on employee experience is about four times higher than the average. And yes, you read that correctly—not customer experience, but employee experience. Because if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers—and your shareholders will do well, too.

In 12 half-hour lectures, How to Build a Thriving Workplace: A Leader’s Guide will show you how to identify and implement relatively simple and inexpensive changes to improve your employees’ work environment and positively impact your bottom line. Professor Beth Cabrera, organizational psychologist and Senior Scholar at the George Mason University Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, provides a step-by-step guide to creating the best possible work environment for your employees.

Even though the steps Professor Cabrera provides are accessible, effective, and often low-cost, you’ll discover that creating a truly employee-focused environment in your organization isn’t something you can delegate to an isolated department or ad hoc committee. In this course, you’ll learn why leading by example is your only way to develop a more engaged and thriving workforce. The good news is that you, too, will benefit from a greater sense of well-being and increased productivity. While created for the workplace, there are dozens of take-aways that can help you find peace and well-being, and help you to thrive in any environment on a personal level, as well.

What Doesn’t Work—You’ll Be Surprised

For a long time, there was a general concensus concerning what the most productive workforce looks like. Employees arrive early and leave late. They are always at their stations when you need them, not chatting in the break room or on vacation. If an employee’s child becomes ill during the workday, arrangements are made for someone else to care for the child, so the parent can stay at work. When leadership feels the need to praise employee effort, a plaque or the occasional potluck lunch should do the trick.

But the results of recent workplace studies paint a radically different picture. In How to Build a Thriving Workplace: A Leader’s Guide, you’ll be surprised to learn that these old “absolutes” are simply not true and could be working against your best interest. Many of the traditional ways of running a business and managing a workforce have been reassessed, and much of what actually works is less about time and place, and more about employee engagement and happiness. For example, studies have revealed that:

  • More hours in the office do not necessarily result in greater productivity. In fact, working too many hours without a break reduces productivity.
  • Allowing employees to work at home does not actually lower productivity.
  • Taking time off regularly doesn’t indicate an employee is less dedicated. Employees who are able to strike a better balance between work and rest are often more efficient and productive.
  • Multi-tasking will most often result in lowered efficiency and higher stress levels. Prioritizing and completing tasks one at a time is a much more effective method.
  • Contrary to what people may believe about “distractions” at work, it has been shown that healthy friendships and bonds with coworkers promote a better, more productive work environment.
  • Salary is not the sole determining factor of turnover. Many things—environment, expectations, structure, etc.—can equally affect how you obtain and maintain talent.


What Does Work—The How and Why

If our old model for the most productive workforce is no longer valid, what’s the new model? What are the parameters for a thriving, productive, and innovative workforce—and how do we really know?

The old model was based on gut instinct and what seemed—at the time—to be common sense. But the new model was developed using the scientific principles of positive psychology and the results of dozens of studies conducted over the past two decades.

Positive psychology is not pop psychology—popular “how to’s” that have no basis in scientific study. Positive psychology was born at the end of the 20th century when some psychologists turned their scientific methods away from the study of pathologies to examine the other side of the human experience—thriving. In the two decades since, there has been an explosion of research on topics including happiness, gratitude, optimism, strengths, flow, meaning, and relationships.

When the research of positive psychology is applied to the workplace, we learn what employees really need to thrive and the steps leaders can take to bring that about—based not on gut instinct, but on solid data.

Thriving and Well-Being

Thriving and well-being can feel like nebulous terms. While psychologists have many definitions for these multi-dimensional concepts, well-being can generally be defined as a mental state characterized by positive feelings and positive functioning. When we are thriving—when we have a great “amount of” well-being—we are at our best. At work, we are more creative, more productive, and more engaged.

This course examines a variety of factors that have been proven to increase employees’ well-being and productivity—and your bottom line. They include:

  • Mindfulness: While there’s a good chance you’ve heard of mindfulness to promote focus or achievement, you may not be aware of how mindfulness training can also help you create a thriving work environment in other ways. Mindfulness is about paying attention to what is happening in your own mind, your thoughts and feelings, and what is going on around you—intentionally and without judgment. With mindfulness training, you’ll be able to not only better focus on your own work, but to pay better attention to your employees’ verbal and non-verbal communication. You’ll have a much more accurate picture of your workplace and your employees, and a better understanding of where changes should and can be made.
  • Attitudes: Positive Outlook, Optimism, Hope, Generosity, and Compassion. These positive attitudes in the workplace have been proven to provide psychological, cognitive, social, and physical health benefits, including resilience. But no one’s attitude is more important than yours; the emotions and attitudes of leaders are contagious at work. You’ll be surprised to learn the simple but powerful techniques you can use to create a more positive attitude within yourself and among your employees.
  • Employee Engagement, Autonomy, and the State of Flow. Engagement, autonomy, and the state of flow significantly boost productivity in the workplace. You’ll learn what employees need in order to experience these states for enhanced performance, and how a few simple workplace changes can help create a supportive environment.
  • Relationships. Humans have a biological need to feel connected to other people, to feel understood, recognized, and affirmed. Our relationships with other people are at the heart of thriving, contributing to our health and happiness at home and in the workplace. Learn what you can do to create an environment that fosters positive relationships and also improves productivity.

How to Build a Thriving Workplace: A Leader’s Guide will give you all the information you need to transform your workplace into an attractive and thriving environment. In the process, not only will your bottom line improve, but so will the lives of your employees—and your own life, as well.

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12 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Workplace Well-Being: The New Frontier
    What's the next competitive frontier in business? It's the relationship between employee experience and company success. Learn about the exciting new research showing a clear link between employee well-being and your company's bottom line. x
  • 2
    Mindfulness at Work: The Power of Presence
    While most of us believe multi-tasking increases our productivity, scientific studies reveal the opposite. Explore why mindfulness has proven to be a better path to emotional well-being and optimal work performance. Discover how to develop and implement the practice of mindfulness in your life. x
  • 3
    Positive Outlook, Positive Performance
    Can starting your day off with a few smiles really make a difference in your work performance? Yes! Discover how positive emotions can impact our brain structure and chemistry, resulting in significant psychological, cognitive, social, and health benefits that can improve work performance. x
  • 4
    Fostering Employee Optimism and Hope
    Optimism and hope are two powerful ingredients in the recipe for a thriving workplace, and studies have confirmed their correlation to the bottom line. Explore the important differences between these two concepts and the specific ways in which employees can learn to shift from pessimistic or hopeless attitudes to more optimistic and hopeful ones. x
  • 5
    The Advantage of Workplace Relationships
    Our brains are wired for social interaction, and research has confirmed that our relationships with others significantly impact both our ability to thrive and our work performance. Find out how to foster high-quality social connections among employees and how those connections can have a positive impact. x
  • 6
    Encouraging Generosity and Compassion
    Scientists now believe nature rewarded not only the fittest, but also the kindest. Explore how to foster generosity and compassion in the workplace, and the many ways in which these qualities lead to stronger relationships and greater productivity. Also, explore the benefits of self-compassion. x
  • 7
    Creating an Inspiring Learning Environment
    We all want to learn and grow throughout our careers, yet some people are more open to learning new concepts and skills than others. Find out how leadership can create an environment of psychological safety, curiosity, and creativity, which will inspire all employees to learn, grow, and thrive. x
  • 8
    Engaging Your Workforce: The Power of Flow
    We’re familiar with the concept of athletes and artists experiencing “flow” or being “in the zone.” They report performing almost effortlessly while time goes by unnoticed when they are fully engaged in their work. Discover how creating more opportunities for flow at work and adopting a strengths-based leadership approach can benefit both your employees and your organization. x
  • 9
    The Need for Meaning: Making Work Matter
    Many people look to their work for a sense of fulfillment and meaning. But meaning doesn't come from the specific task performed; it is derived from an individual's understanding of the task's purpose. Explore the many ways to help employees understand how their work and the company's collective activities serve colleagues, customers, and community. x
  • 10
    Promoting Workplace Resilience
    The modern workplace can be a stressful environment. But whether that stress is harmful or helpful depends on an individual’s mindset—a mindset that can be changed. Examine specific strategies that can help develop resilience. A more resilient workforce can lead to increased performance and decreased employee turnover. x
  • 11
    Strategies for Employee Health
    The research is clear that a few well-planned front-end investments in employee health can prevent significant costs later on. Explore the many ways in which workplace environment and culture can promote better health through exercise, eating habits, sleep, rest, and relaxation. x
  • 12
    Autonomy: Empowering Employees to Succeed
    Autonomy—the feeling of being in control and having the ability to accomplish your goals—is one of the most powerful components of well-being, and companies where employees have greater autonomy significantly outperform competitors. Learn the best ways to give up a bit of control, even though it’s difficult for most of us. It will be well worth the effort. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 12 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
Instant Audio Includes:
  • Download 12 audio lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 176-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 176-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos and illustrations
  • Suggested reading
  • Exercises

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Your professor

Beth Cabrera

About Your Professor

Beth Cabrera, PhD
George Mason University
Beth Cabrera is a Senior Scholar at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University, where she conducts research on applying principles of positive psychology to improve personal and professional well-being. She received her PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. After earning her PhD, Dr. Cabrera joined the faculty of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid,...
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How to Build a Thriving Workplace: A Leader's Guide is rated 4.9 out of 5 by 12.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The title is very intriguing and inspiring. I bought the course just a little while ago and enjoyed it very much!
Date published: 2020-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very useful I am using this course in my business. I introduced some ideas at a recent staff meeting and got great results. Planning on continuing to build a THRIVING workplace.
Date published: 2020-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent for Both Personal and Professional Lives I used to work in HR and majored in psychology, so I found this course fascinating. I highly recommend this course for anyone who wants to improve both their personal and professional lives. Professor Cabrera offers engaging content, excellent academic research and relatable real-world examples.
Date published: 2020-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eye opening! As a supervisor, I truly found this lecture insightful. The information provided was informative and easy to put into practice. I especially like how the topics are broken down for easier review and under 30 minutes to listen too.
Date published: 2019-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 1st Rate Course! This is one of the best courses I've watched at The Great Courses. Dr. Cabrera does a wonderful job outlining the guideposts to a positive, healthy and thriving work environment. The video isn't just for the work environment. All of the concepts can be adopted to raising a healthy and thriving family. Thank you for the wonderful and well presented material Dr. Cabrera! I'm a better person for taking your course.
Date published: 2019-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How To Build a Thriving Workplace I’ve learned a lot from this video. Great presentation!
Date published: 2019-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating - Great Speaker - Positive & Inspiring No matter what kind of business or organization you work with, this will surely be helpful. It shows ways to make work more positive for employees as well as how to make more money.
Date published: 2019-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from outstanding course I have listened and watched many courses from the Teaching Company and this is one of the best. I have listened to it twice and now I am sharing snippets with my whole team at work. I highly recommend this course to any manager.
Date published: 2018-11-09
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