Being part of an organization often means leaning on others to help you and helping out when needed. But is all that helping good for you? Surprisingly, it depends! In some cases, helping others can be incredibly beneficial. In others, it can be harmful. Today, we share some tips to help you help others.

The Good and the Bad of Helping

For decades, researchers have been studying Organizational Citizenship Behavior. This is basically the scientific term for going above and beyond to help at work. For a long time, scientists focused on the positive benefits of helping. For example, helping others at work increases positive mood. In other words, helping others feels good. Feels like an obvious finding, right? We always hear people talking about how good they feel when they help others. Plus, positive mood is linked to well-being. But, it’s not that simple!

Recently, a negative side of helping has been explored. Helping others can hurt productivity, such as meeting goals. In other words, helping can slow your progress at work. Unfortunately, not meeting goals and feeling unproductive can actually have a negative impact on your well-being.

Interestingly, some types of people are more likely to experience positive benefits of helping than others.

Helping others can be both good and bad for your health!

Promotion Focus vs. Prevention Focus

One recent study found that certain types of people benefit more from helping than others. Specifically, people with a promotion focus are more likely to feel good after helping, leading to more job satisfaction and commitment. On the other hand, people with a prevention focus are more likely to feel like they aren’t meeting goals, leading to more exhaustion, less job satisfaction, and less commitment. But what are promotion and prevention focus?

Promotion Focus

Promotion-focused people focus on their aspirations and advancement. They are trying to accomplish their goals and advance in their careers. These individuals want attention and rewards when they help others. They are looking to feel good or to be noticed as great members of their team.

How do you know if you are promotion-focused? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about how to fulfill your aspirations? Do you focus your energy on tasks and work that will help you advance? Then, you might be promotion-focused!

Prevention Focus

Prevention-focused people focus on avoiding errors and mistakes when completing their work. They are cautious and monitor everything around them to prevent any issues. These individuals don’t like to help because they don’t want to bring in any uncertainty that may slow their task completion.

How do you know if you are prevention-focused? Do you focus your attention on completing your assigned and mandatory tasks? Is it really important for you to complete your work duties? If yes, then you might be prevention-focused!

Think about the best helping strategy for you and your well-being!

What This Means

People that are promotion-focused have higher well-being when they help others. People that are prevention-focused have lower well-being when they help others. According to the research, it seems that figuring out which of these types of people you are most like can help you understand how much helping you should do to impact your wellness.

Take some time to review the definitions and questions above and think about which type you are most like. It’s highly possible that you might be able to say “yes” to all of the questions. But, what is more important? What is most relevant to you? Are you more focused on figuring out what strategic work you need to be doing to get promoted or on making sure you don’t make mistakes in your daily tasks? Where do you spend your energy?

Once you understand your focus, think about how to be strategic with your helping. We don’t want to tell you never to help your coworkers just because you are prevention-focused! However, you probably want to help when it’s absolutely necessary or when you have time in your schedule. You don’t want to focus on going above and beyond to help everyone around you all the time! On the other hand, if you are promotion-focused, you should focus on helping others. Don’t completely sacrifice your work but take extra time to help the people around you to feel happier. You will do better if you make the time to help your team.

Now, we’d love to hear from you. Are you promotion or prevention focused? What is your helping strategy going to be at work based on this research? Let us know!

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