How to Apply Character Strengths at Work

The key to being happier and more productive at work is already in your pocket, or more specifically, it’s already inside of you. It’s your character strengths. Your character strengths, when used to their full potential, can improve your wellbeing and help you thrive at work.

Character strengths have been extensively researched in the positive psychology field, and as well as increasing happiness and wellbeing for individuals, applying them in the workplace can also make organisations more successful.

How do you recognise a strength?

A strength is not just something you’re ‘good at,’ it goes far deeper than that. A strength in the context of positive psychology is a positive character attribute you possess, like bravery or kindness.

Discovering what your character strengths are

Research shows that humans share the same 24 character strengths, though whether we possess more or less of a particular strength does vary.

The VIA Character Strengths test helps us identify our strongest and weakest attributes. Character strengths are divided into six ‘Core Virtues’ and each virtue is divided into its related character strengths. You can find out what your top character strengths are at the VIA website.

 How do you know when you’re using your strengths?

When you’re using one of your key character strengths, you’ll feel happy and energised, and you’ll perform well. You probably aren’t using your strengths if a task or activity bores you or drains your energy.

The benefits of using character strengths at work

As you imagine, when you’re making the best use of your character strengths at work, it leads to better outcomes. Research has found that there are many benefits of applying character strengths in the workplace, including:

  • Better work performance
  • Better stress management
  • Greater workplace harmony
  • Increased likelihood of being able to do meaningful work/pursue a calling
  • A more positive experience of work in general
  • Feeling more engaged at work
  • Increased likelihood of continuing to use your strengths

How to apply your character strengths at work

  • Once you’ve identified your key character strengths:
  • Work out which ones will benefit your team
  • Ask your manager to help you align your key strengths with your work tasks where possible
  • Make a habit out of using your main strengths every day
  • Look for character strengths in your colleagues
  • Tell your colleagues which of their character strengths you appreciate or admire and why.
  • Find new ways to use your top character strengths


Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit or e mail