Positive Psychology for the Workplace With Laurie Butson

  • The pandemic brought conversations about mental health and well-being into the open. Today, employees increasingly expect employers to support their wellness and help them thrive. 

  • Laurie Butson, a 25-year HR veteran and the founder of Cleared to Flourish, uses the concept of positive psychology to help individuals and organizations flourish in and out of the workplace. 

  • On an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast, Laurie explained how organizations can use positive psychology to help employees cultivate well-being, mental health and resilience. 

According to
Laurie Butson, the majority of the population is just doing okay — but she thinks that we deserve better. 

Laurie runs Cleared to Flourish, a business that helps people lead more flourishing lives inside and outside the workplace. Formerly the VP of Global Learning and Employee Experience at IDG, Laurie launched her business after a medical crisis led her to take a break and focus on her own health. “Everything that I had been preaching for the last several years around well-being and mental health came to the forefront for me,” she says. 

Today, Laurie is a consultant, coach and trainer who uses the framework of positive psychology to “help others be more than just okay.” On an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast, I talked to Laurie about how organizations can use positive psychology to help employees thrive and flourish in the workplace and beyond. 

What Is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that helps people grow and flourish. 

“I like to describe positive psychology as picking up where traditional psychology left off,” Laurie says. Traditional psychology helps people in challenging life circumstances, such as mental illness, trauma or addiction. Its focus is to bring people back to a certain baseline of well-being. 

Positive psychology aims higher. “A term that’s used quite often in positive psychology is ‘north of neutral,’” Laurie says.
“Life is short and we want to be living our lives as fulfilled, as thriving [and] as flourishing as possible.” Positive psychology provides the tools to do that. 

The Six Pathways of Positive Psychology

A key aspect of positive psychology is that it provides multiple angles to pursue well-being and happiness. Happiness “looks different to everybody,” Laurie explains. “What’s going to get you there might be really different from me.” 

The six pathways of positive psychology are:

  1. Positive emotion

  2. Engagement

  3. Relationships

  4. Meaning

  5. Achievement

  6. Vitality 

The pathways serve as a framework for people to identify and capitalize on their strengths so they can enhance their success and well-being.

Positive Psychology at Work

Laurie’s business helps both individuals and organizations use positive psychology to support well-being at work. She became interested in the intersection of wellness and the workplace early on during the pandemic. 

“I felt like as a society, we had an opportunity to talk about and seize the moment that was developing around well-being and mental health,”
she explains. “I realized early on that I really wanted to be part of that conversation and work on solutions.” 

The Evolution of Workplace Wellness

Workplaces haven’t always treated employee well-being as a concern. “If we were to go back 10 or 15 years, not many organizations were doing this type of work,” Laurie says. The pandemic changed that. “There’s [been] a call to action for organizations and workplaces to take more initiative and care and concern with overall well-being.” 

She adds that employees are now actively looking to work for companies that prioritize wellness — especially members of Gen Z, who expect their employers to support their mental health and well-being. 

Though workplaces have become more attuned to their employees’ well-being, research shows that the process has only just begun.
Deloitte reports that 59% of employees rated their well-being as “good” or “excellent.” “If we stop and think about that, that’s 41% of the workplace that is not doing good or excellent,” Laurie says. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.” 

Put Positive Psychology to Work in Your Workplace

Whether you’re interested in developing a positive psychology program or simply want to incorporate some of the principles into your well-being strategy, Laurie shares two key tips from her experience as an in-house leader and consultant. 

1. Start With Why

Before you embark on a positive psychology initiative for your organization or department, Laurie recommends taking a step back to identify your purpose and focus. 

She suggests answering the following questions before you develop a program:

  • Why are you doing this? What are your goals?

  • Where is your organization starting out? Is this a brand-new area, or do you have initiatives already in place? 

  • Do you want to be explicit about using positive psychology for well-being, talking openly about your goals and providing resources? Or do you want to try some initiatives more quietly? 

  • Do you want help from external consultants to help you evaluate and identify options? 

Once you have a clearer sense of where you want to go and why, you can start planning on how to use positive psychology in your organization. 

2. Create a Program That Fits Your Needs

One of the main things Laurie likes about positive psychology is how flexible the framework is. You can use the principles to develop programming that fits your company’s needs and resources. “Honestly, I would say that the possibilities are endless,” she notes. 

Some program examples she suggests include:

  • Helping employees discover and tap into their strengths through group or one-on-one coaching

  • Reducing burnout by identifying ways to align processes and systems with individuals’ strengths

  • Promoting physical well-being with physical challenges or breaks

  • Addressing difficult team dynamics through a team intervention focused on relationship-building

  • Helping employees develop resilience skills through a months-long program

Laurie emphasizes that you don’t have to run a long, complex program to see results. “You could offer some small workshops to start to introduce some of these concepts and skills,” she suggests. 

‘We Have Evolved As a Society’

Laurie is excited to be part of a movement that is pushing leaders to treat employee well-being as a first-order concern. Even just a few years ago, organizations “didn’t focus and didn’t feel like they had to focus” on well-being and mental health, she says. “We have evolved as a society.” 

She adds that we have a long way to go toward reducing the stigma around mental health in the workplace and “bringing it into more of the forefront of an organization.” But she views positive psychology as a powerful framework for doing that. 

Laurie invites HR leaders who are interested in positive psychology to
reach out to her to learn more. “This is stuff that I have seen and felt work for me personally,” she says. “I have seen the impacts that it’s had on individuals and teams and organizations that I’ve worked for.” 


This article is based on an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast by Bright Breaks, the platform that boosts workplace wellness seven minutes at a time. Want more insights on HR strategies for a happy, healthy and connected workforce in a work-from-home world? Subscribe to the Virtual Vibe podcast, and tune in wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

Download promo scripts

Easily promote wellness to employees every week with free resources.

Sign up to receive pre-written scripts to help keep your team engaged.

Sign Up

Get a demo to see how Bright Breaks can help you introduce workday breaks to your team to increase productivity and engagement and build a resilient team that thrives.


What you should do now

  1. Promote best practices for remote worker health with free copy/paste, pre-written scripts you can post every week in your internal communications channels.

  2. Learn from top HR & People Leaders about the latest strategies to keep your remote workforce happy, healthy, and connected on The Virtual Vibe Podcast.

  3. Contact our sales team to discover the benefits of our built-for-the-workplace wellness solution, compared to B2C offerings like Calm or Headspace.
We use cookies and other local storage to keep you signed in, to enable customer support chats, and to anonymously track user actions so that we can continuously improve our product. Read more about how we use cookies here. Only want essential cookies? Click here.