A systems view of hope and the workplace: elements, relationships, context
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Over the past six decades, hope has been identified by researchers and philosophers as a complex yet crucial element of health and well-being. Studies have investigated hope in various medical contexts as well as academic and sports settings, most commonly by measuring hopefulness of patients and athletes. Rarely has hope been investigated to understand participants’ lived experiences and perceptions of hope. In America, the healthcare and education industries are facing shortages and high turnover of nurses and teachers, two groups who are expected to nurture hope in others. If hope supports wellness in patients and performance in athletes, might it influence satisfaction in nurses and teachers? To examine this question and understand what hope means to nurses and teachers, Interactive Qualitative Analysis was utilized to produce grounded theories of hope and, hope and the workplace. Through focus groups with each constituency (nurses, teachers), the elements that compose hope were identified, then the elements that interact with hope in the workplace were identified. Interviews with nine nurses and ten teachers were conducted to determine how these elements relate in perceptual systems of cause-effect relationships. A systems representation of hope was developed through the creation and analysis of conceptual mind maps. The resulting theory indicates that hope is composed of faith, relationships, expressions of hope, optimism about the future, and realistic anticipation. Hope is much more than wishful thinking or having the ability to set and achieve goals. This research demonstrates that hope is a multidimensional construct, a system whose elements are perceived and ordered differently by individuals depending on their life experiences and context. A systems representation also was developed to illustrate hope and the workplace through creation and analysis of conceptual mind maps. The resulting theory indicates that eight elements interact with (influence and/or are influenced by) hope in the context of the workplace: spirituality, relationships, resources, organizational structure/system, attitude toward clients, actions for clients, client outcomes, and personal outcomes. This research demonstrates that hope does influence job satisfaction for nurses and teachers.