Surviving or thriving? Beyond the daily grind

What makes us thrive at work? Monash Business School’s Multidisciplinary International Network on Thriving (MINT) is investigating what it takes for both individuals and organisations to flourish.

Do you wake up every day for work bursting with energy and a sense of positive progress? Or do you wake up feeling stagnated, tired, and uninspired?

No doubt, we all want to go to work feeling vitalised, alive, ready to be productive, constantly learning and progressing – in short, thriving in the workplace. But do we?

According to the World Health Organisation – a third of an average person’s total waking hours over a 50-year working life will be spent at work, so being happy and thriving is important for our overall wellbeing.

Although thriving in the workplace is an individual psychological experience, organisations will do well to place themselves in a position to help boost their employee thriving levels.

Satisfying the triple bottom line of economic, environment and human performance, could improve an organisation’s ability to be sustainable.

But typically less focus is given to the human dimension. However, ensuring that employees are thriving in the workplace is crucial to creating and maintaining a sustainable workforce.


Examining thriving

Monash Business School’s Multidisciplinary International Network on Thriving (MINT) is a network of Monash Business School and international researchers who are at the forefront of investigating thriving at work.

Our projects utilise a variety of research methods and deliver excellent academic outcomes with high practical relevance.

The research we are currently undertaking in this area is promising, already showing the benefits of thriving in the workplace. Much more can be done to deepen our understanding of its causes and effects, as well as how it can be progressed in the workplace.

The concept of thriving in the workplace is to capture this important psychological experience that promises sustainability in the workplace, both for the individual and the organisation.

What is thriving?

Thriving is a positive psychological state marked by a sense of learning and vitality. The keyword here is “and”. Experiencing greater understanding and knowledge while simultaneously feeling alive and positive due to having energy is key.



Imagine an employee mastering new technologies who is burnt out and in a constant state of depletion. They are learning, but they are not thriving.

Imagine an employee having energising relationships with their colleagues but feels stagnant because they aren’t adding to their existing knowledge or skills.

They are energised, but they are not thriving.


The first component of thriving captures the sense of being alive and energised at work. When we are thriving, we generate our own energy that sustains and develops our work. This positive state provides the energy that fuels our action, as well as sparking energy in others.


The second key to thriving is developing new knowledge, skills, and attitudes through learning. Thriving individuals are those who grow their capacities by seeking out challenges and new opportunities; they are the self-starters who are not satisfied with the status quo.

This joint experience of learning and vitality is the key to fuelling our enthusiasm and initiative in the workplace, as it reflects a sense of progress or a forward movement in our self-development.

Individuals can use this experience as an internal compass: ask yourself what am I doing and how am I doing it? This allows us to develop in a positive direction.

What does thriving do for you?

Thriving employees enjoy increased productivity, job satisfaction, and organisational commitment.  The improved work experience and greater career development initiative stems from having a self-starter mentality in seeking out opportunities to learn and grow, and develop a more personal mission and purpose about their work.

As individuals, those who thrive are more creative and resilient, enjoying sustained health and wellbeing over time as well as lower levels of burnout, stress and absenteeism.

Feeling a sense of vitality and aliveness reduces the likelihood of feeling anxious and depressed, encouraging individuals to be mentally and emotionally healthy.


What can we do?

Enhancing the ability of employees to thrive is a fantastic way to make them happier and healthier while simultaneously improving many business outcomes.

But what behaviours should employees be encouraged to do in order to enhance their sense of thriving? What can individuals do to actively increase their own thriving at work?

How can managers invest in the thriving of their employees? How can leaders who thrive inspire their followers to do the same?

Undertaking this research is an exciting way forward to creating a better workplace experience and environment.

The MINT research team is currently negotiating with several external organisations (large Australian employers) for access to conduct research with their workforces.

The research will include data collection such as interviews and questionnaire surveys to be conducted with employees in these organisations about their attitudes and behaviours at work.

If you are interested in engaging with us, there are current opportunities for select organisations to partner with us on MINT research projects such as co-designing projects to develop, support and evaluate evidence-based organisational interventions aimed at enhancing employee thriving.

To discuss a potential research collaboration project or find out more about our research outcomes, please contact: Dr Zen Goh, MINT Principal Investigator, T: +61 3 9903 2607  E:

Published on 14 Oct 2019