What are emotions at work?

Emotions at work are the way we process emotions that affects our health and wellbeing, including our relationships, work performance, and physical health. How we process our emotions predicts our health and wellbeing. It can affect everything from work, and our relationships, to our physical and psychological health.

Why is emotion important at work?

Research shows that, for better or worse, emotions influence employees’ commitment, creativity, decision-making, work quality, and the likelihood of sticking around—and you can see the effects on the bottom line. So, it’s important to monitor and manage people’s feelings as deliberately as you do their mindset.

Here are some fundamentals ways that emotions at work affect an organisation:

  • Increased stress impairs brain power – Excess stress is shown to cause many issues including attention, memory, and mental flexibility. Organisations that don’t monitor or manage employees’ feelings can end up having a team that is less productive.
  • Good working culture attracts talent – A positive atmosphere and a sense of team morale can support and fuel higher retainment levels and attract top talent to join your organisation.
  • Emotional exhaustion leads to burnout – Burnout is a result of low morale at work over a long period of time. Burnout can occur due to many workplace issues such as work-life imbalance, feeling undervalued at work, and lack of camaraderie between team members.

What are examples of emotions that you can feel at work?

In 1997, Bond University professor of management Cynthia Fisher conducted a study called “Emotions at Work: What Do People Feel, and How Should We Measure It?

According to Fisher’s research, the most common negative emotions experienced in the workplace are as follows:

  • Frustration/irritation
  • Worry/nervousness
  • Anger/aggravation
  • Disappointment/unhappiness

How do you handle an emotional employee?

Whether you manage someone who repeatedly asks the same questions, is extremely nervous and emotional, or struggles to receive criticism, there are a few ways you can support them.  Here are three steps you can take to manage a team with an emotionally needy member.

  1. Be an example for employees

Leaders need to demonstrate the behaviours that they would like employees to emulate.  Managers who are constantly stressed about workloads and regularly stay at the office well past business hours are setting a poor example. Employees will look at these behaviours and assume they’re the workplace expectation and norm.

Leaders must ask people questions about their life outside of work and share their experiences. This can show employees that life outside of work is valuable and that they’re not expected to regularly bring work home. It’s also healthy for managers to acknowledge when their teams are under pressure. This can help create and safe and positive environment where employees can feel comfortable speaking up and asking for help.

  1. Provide resources

It’s important for organisational leaders to talk about mental health. Mental health can carry a big stigma in some cultures and workplaces and often issues go unaddressed. Leaders and managers need to own the communication around the importance of mental health and let employees know that issues can be openly discussed. Employees need to be reassured that it is safe for them to voice their concerns about challenges with things like stress, anxiety, and depression.

Making employees aware of company mental health resources is also key. Having a company newsletter, mental health practitioners, or a resource library can all be very helpful.  While employees do need to seek out these resources on their own, reminding them of their options can encourage them to do so. When someone is battling a mental health challenge, it can be easy to forget that there are resources available to help.

  1. Create a sense of belonging

Employees who feel like they belong in their position and among their colleagues will be more productive and engaged. Ensuring employees understand their role within the organisation’s greater purpose will give them a sense of accomplishment and motivate them to contribute above and beyond their role.

Encouraging employees to form personal connections with colleagues provides them with a support network that they can count on during times of stress. A workplace where employees feel emotionally supported and safe to express their opinions creates a healthy environment high in exclusivity and empathy.

Every organisation should make sure that their leaders and managers are talking to employees one-on-one. The goal should be to learn about what motivates them and how the organisation can support them in achieving their professional goals. When an employee feels cared about, they will be happier, more loyal, and more productive.

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