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Good Practice Guide

The Strengths Approach

To promote thriving in your organisation, leveraging the strengths of your employees is an important element.

Strengths-based development has been linked to positive outcomes in a variety of studies across a range of domains:1

  • meaningfully linked to business outcomes including profitability, turnover, safety, customer satisfaction, and
  • increases in positive psychological or positive organisational behaviour capacities such as hope, subjective well-being, and confidence.

Research shows that people have the power to positively influence their own well being by focusing on their highest character strengths. Research shows that if people have an active awareness of their character strengths they are nine times more likely to be flourishing. Specific benefits of character strengths have been linked with each of the main elements of well being: positive emotions, engagement, meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishment. They have also been connected with many other benefits that help us amplify the positive in our life, such as self-acceptance, autonomy, goal progress, physical health, passion, and resilience.


The VIA Institute of Character contains links to hundreds of studies on character strengths research.

Identifying strengths

A common myth is that employees know their strengths. Often, it can be difficult for employees to identify their strengths and leaders can assist with this process.

Dr  Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology has created a free survey of character strengths (the VIA survey)2, which is regarded as a central tool of positive psychology and has been used in hundreds of research studies and taken by over 5 million people in over 190 countries resulting in better workplaces.

Dr Seligman’s research shows that we thrive when we experience PERMA:

  • More positive emotion;
  • More engagement;
  • Better relationships
  • More meaning; and
  • More accomplishments.

Dr. Seligman theorizes that VIA character strengths are the pathways to well being, and deploying these strengths leads to PERMA.


The VIA Survey of Character Strengths is a free self-assessment that takes less than 15 minutes and provides a wealth of information to help you understand your strengths.


  1. Hodges, D.H. and Clifton, D.O. (2004). Strengths based development in practice. Retrieved from
  2. Niemiec, R. (2019) Research points to two main reasons to focus on strengths. Retrieved from