When we are sad, anxious, or depressed, it's unrealistic to expect that we can simply leave those feelings at the office door and come in "clean" to work as if nothing happened. We are emotional beings, and even those who are more adept at controlling their moods cannot completely prevent them from affecting our work performance.
In an "ideal world," we would be able to leave sadness, anxiety, anger, and other emotions outside when we start our workday. This is what is often considered a "professional" attitude. However, our internal emotions inevitably manifest themselves in our tone of voice, body language, and the words we use to communicate with others. What we feel inside can impact our productivity, concentration, ability to work alone or in a team, decision-making, leadership, and even our interpersonal relationships.
So, how can we better deal with emotions in the workplace? Rather than pretending they don't exist, it's more effective to acknowledge and work through them. Instead of trying to eliminate emotions altogether, both individuals and company leaders can choose a more constructive approach: striving to understand emotions and leveraging them to foster a more human-centred approach with employees, ultimately enhancing productivity.
READ MORE | Modern work gives rise to emotional complexities
Companies that make an effort to proactively understand their employees' emotional states and personal experiences achieve better communication and, as a result, greater commitment from their workforce. When employees feel supported and acknowledged, they are motivated to perform at their best. This creates a win-win situation where employees experience greater well-being, and the company benefits from increased performance and commitment.
Foster open communication
Addressing emotions in the workplace shouldn't be about extinguishing emotional fires as they arise or waiting for emotional outbursts or crises to occur. Instead, managing employee emotions should be an ongoing policy.
According to an article published by Conexion Exan, creating continuous channels of communication and implementing individual and collective emotion management is key. The author, Gonzalo Guerra-García, provides some helpful tips:
Regularly recognise and praise employees, providing incentives that make them feel valued and engaged in the company at all times. Develop and maintain interpersonal relationships with employees in a planned and managed manner. Each work group has unique needs that should be identified and satisfied. Measure the "emotional capital" within the organisation. Utilise anonymous surveys, interviews, and other methods to constantly assess the emotions and sentiments of all employees.
Establish a climate of trust and foster open and timely communication with employees. Positive communication is crucial. Consider implementing mindfulness as a tool, particularly in environments that require teamwork. Mindfulness helps individuals observe and accept their work processes through empathy and observation. Recognise that emotions are a significant aspect of the job and avoid making sarcastic or negative comments that could have long-term impacts on interpersonal relationships.
Ensure that positive emotions are experienced and celebrate achievements as a team. This greatly contributes to overall team productivity.
READ MORE | How much does it cost to be happy?
Avoid allowing any department to remain uncertain about how to complete a task for an extended period, as it increases anxiety and decreases productivity.
Focus on the success and well-being of individuals, not just the completion of tasks.
The emotional well-being of employees should not be taken lightly. If empathy is a core value of the company, it should be practised within the organisation first. Moreover, peace of mind and mental health also have an impact on the workplace. Consider this: according to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, companies lose around 200 million working days each year because 60% of employees have never discussed their mental health issues at work, as it is still considered a taboo. The study also revealed a financial loss of US$16.8bn for these companies.
Therefore, there are numerous reasons to prioritise emotional intelligence and actively manage the emotions of those who contribute to a business.