Emotions in the workplace: Bring your whole you to work
Managing emotions in the workplace
Emotions in the workplace and emotional intelligence is increasingly being talked about.
In our day to day we come in contact with managers and employees from different industries and sizes. Yet it’s uncommon for many companies to think about the ‘whole’ person when hiring, or in the day-to-day.
One CEO once told us, “I don’t care if one of my employees is going through a divorce. You leave that at the door when you walk into the office”.
However, ignoring an employee’s well being doesn’t mean it won’t affect the workplace or the office morale. Not sure about you, but I find it hard to completely turn off my emotions.
And our data shows that these types of companies take a longer time to recoup their employee morale after a crisis.
Emotions at the workplace
Which emotions at the workplace do you “permit”?
One of our favourite things we’ve heard from a user is from the Agile HR at DEK:
“…We hire the WHOLE person. If you’re going through a tough time at home, it will have an effect on your job too. The working environment is part of something bigger. How can we best help or support you when your spirit is low? Everything affects each other.”
They have created a safe and trusting environment where employees feel free to express themselves authentically.
Bereavement leave policy
After the death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt how personal life affected her professional one.
“I have long encouraged people to bring their whole selves to work,” Sandberg writes, “but now my ‘whole self’ was just so freaking sad.”
Sheryl Sandberg has campaigned for universal policies like flexible time off and paid bereavement leave.
What we’ve found in speaking with users is that it’s not just policies to help employees in turbulent times like bereavement that help create workplace happiness. Happiness and employee satisfaction need to be integrated into the business.
What we’ve seen, is that workplaces that incorporate happiness as a core value and worksites that not just bring awareness to, but also make efforts to improve employee wellbeing, see better productivity, retention, avoid accidents and burnout and are able to more easily navigate through any crises.
When looking at these benefits, it’s clear that it’s worth it for companies to not just measure workplace happiness but actively work at improving it through managing emotions in the workplace.
Managing emotions in the workplace
Put simply, engaged employees care more about their jobs; whether it’s a salesperson working harder to meet customer needs or a marketing professional pushing harder to work creatively.
According to a team of economists led by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick Business School, “Happier workers … were 12% more productive. Unhappier workers were 10% less productive.”
Happier and engaged employees are more productive, care about their jobs and are more invested in the workplace.
User Christophe, Factory Manager at BASF states, “Having a continuous, real time employee feedback tool helps us, because we know that when the mood is good the productivity is better.”
Dealing with emotions in the workplace
We’ve found that businesses that ensure that emotional openness are integral to the company have better talent retention.
These companies ensure that happiness and job satisfaction is one of the core values, and employee well-being is important to the company and the CEO. Dealing with emotions in the workplace in a positive way, is part of the day to day.
It’s a top down approach to well-being at work, starting with their CEO who makes sure employees know how serious happiness and job satisfaction is.
Where happiness is a true core value, the mood is higher, and more stable. It’s not uncommon to see dips and peaks usually anywhere from 20-30% either way. However with companies where happiness is so intertwined in how they operate on a day to day, they will usually only see dips and peaks within a few points.
Emotional intelligence examples
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.
“Everything is interlinked in the workplace”, says the site manager when talking about the BASF approach to improve work culture and controlling emotions.
“All your processes, your effectiveness, it all depends on your mood. There’s a big correlation between not following safety regulations and not caring about other employees at work. With people that are engaged you wouldn’t have safety problems, they put on the gear. And they would normally press green. If our kitchen is dirty, they will clean it up.”
An employee with emotional intelligence feels comfortable among coworkers, and will make sure others feel at ease as well. The good news? Emotional intelligence can be taught.
How to manage your emotions in the workplace
It’s a bit sad to see that only three out 10 Swiss workers would rate themselves as ‘fit and motivated’.
This was the issue facing Swiss insurer Baloise when they were building a program around awareness of workplace health. They were interested in how to manage your emotions in the workplace.
They offer solutions to reduce health related cost, increase productivity and work preventively so their clients can keep their workforce motivated. Baloise added solutions for real time employee engagement to their preventative health care program.
What makes me happy at work? Or, what makes me unhappy at work?
What do I, and we as a team, need to start, stop, and continue doing to feel better at work – or hey, at home?
What triggers my emotions? How can you learn how to manage your emotions at work constructively? How can the team ensure a positive work experience? (Tips to controlling emotions here.)
By having the mood results, companies can detect early signs of employee morale going down, to take measures before burnouts, sick leaves, etc.
Talking about what makes someone have a bad or good day and then taking actions to change the situation helps prevent the burnout, bullying and other health issues. It creates a positive work experience.
But being able to detect issues before they snowball is just as imperative to a workplace. The Swiss insurer is convinced their clients can save millions with simple measures as discovering workplace attitudes leads to more productive employees.
We’ve seen that major changes in workplaces can cause large amounts of stress in employees, changing the overall employee morale. It can be an office move or an upcoming merger. In one case, focusing on employee wellness and happiness helped a workplace to overcome the changes that a merger brought.
As mood was declining, the company decided to speak to employees to ask what they could do to bring it back up. What did the employees want to see happen?
How had their emotions changed about work?
Employees wanted the ability to work remotely so the leaders decided to implement this change. This worked and the mood was significantly raised. Despite the uncertainty of a merger, the team managed to increase their mood KPI by 20%. Simply by empowering employees.
They ensured that employee happiness was in the forefront and avoided the unengagement that many employees feel when going through major changes.
It’s not just about having a beer tap in the office or a cool lounge, complete with a pool table.
It’s about promoting positive attitudes in the workplace. It’s about making sure that happiness, satisfaction, safety, wellness etc. is taken seriously at all levels, becoming part of how a company operates.
And opening up to talk about emotions at the workplace.