Emotional Culture Within Organisations

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 10 September 2019
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered:

Organisational Culture can be described as the combined summary of beliefs, customs and attitudes within the workplace.  While different industries may experience different styles of culture depending on the environment, it is essential that all workplace cultures have a significant element of positivity and stability as a presence.  Caroline McEnery of the HR Suite discusses how positive emotions can impact on employee performance and considers how managers can use Emotional Intelligence to help manage emotions in the workplace. 

Organisational Culture can be described as the combined summary of beliefs, customs and attitudes within the workplace.  While different industries may experience different styles of culture depending on the environment, it is essential that all workplace cultures have a significant element of positivity and stability as a presence. Ongoing studies and research have demonstrated that the culture within an organisation can have a significant impact on the overall success of the business and bottom line.  It has a specific effect on the area of talent retention and the level of staff turnover.

The attitude of employees in an organisation is a significant contributing factor to the culture in an organisation.  Our ability to manage our emotions can influence our attitudes and effectiveness in the workplace and therefore contributes to the attitudes that we develop when we are at work.  The basic emotions which all humans experience are joy, love, anger, fear and sadness.  Emotions in the workplace can influence and be influenced by many factors. Emotions can be both negative and positive.  Such emotions can influence employee’s performance and decision-making abilities.  They can also affect group dynamics as well as influencing individual behaviours.

Research by Lyubomirsky et al. (2005) demonstrates the ‘Positive Affect’ which is where someone feels happy that may be a part of their personality due to past successes.  It suggests that happiness can then lead to further successes and in a work context employees’ performance can be increased by their wellbeing and positive state of mind. Furthermore, researchers show that employees in more positive moods will generally receive higher scores on their performance and benefit from more favourable results from their work efforts.  This can also influence how helpful employees are towards their co-workers as outlined by Staw et al. (1994).  These employees often have low levels of absenteeism.

In the service industry positive affect is believed to be significant in relation to business and the bottom line.  Customers who are served by employees demonstrating positive attitudes and helpful behaviours are more likely to do business and walk away having had a positive experience with the employee.  George (1991) carried out research in this area which demonstrates that employees who display positive emotions regularly go beyond the call of duty rather than doing so out of obligation or being forced to do so.

Emotional labour has been discussed in other research and is often associated with the service industry.  This is described as the need to manage emotions at work regardless of how the employee is feeling within themselves.  In further studies on emotional contagion it is evident that employees in the service industry can transfer their mood to a customer just like a cold or flu so if this is a negative mood or emotion the outcome is not likely to result in a sale or a favourable result for the business.  A further example of emotional contagion within the workplace could be a manager who is always in an angry mood at work.  This will most likely have an impact on the employees around that manager.  Over time, this will gradually set the tone for the organisation as a whole and negatively impact the culture particularly because it is coming from somebody in a senior role and this is the example they are setting.  Leading by example is commonly referred to, so therefore modelling the attitudes, emotions and behaviours you wish to cultivate is essential.  Negative emotions are linked to poor performance and high turnover.  Therefore, it is important that Companies address this and implement actions to promote the desired culture within their organisation.

By ignoring ‘Emotional Culture’ managers could be glossing over a vital part of what makes organisations tick.  In further research by Barsade and O’Neill, particular emphasis is placed on measuring job satisfaction and discovering what motivates employees.  The motivational factors can be identified through effective performance management of employees.

In ongoing efforts to retain talent many companies list ‘love’ and ‘caring’ in their corporate values while others ensure there is a ‘sense of fun’ in their organisation. They place great emphasis on the micro moments such as celebrating small wins, team building events and also encouraging everyone to carry out small acts of kindness etc. A number of studies on larger organisations demonstrated that companies where employees are compassionate towards each other also had higher levels of performance and happier customers and clients.  A strong support system from managers and leaders in the organisation who are equipped with the skills to deliver constructive criticism

The overall concept of Emotional Culture and Emotional Contagion within organisations highlights the importance of promoting the use of emotional intelligence and self-awareness to help employees and managers to manage their emotions in the workplace.  The research demonstrates the significant and subsequent effect of employees’ attitudes, emotions and behaviours on the Emotional Culture within organisations.  It is clearly evident that this is a concept which any organisation should actively consider and include in the organisations future Strategic plans to achieve high performing teams and retain their talent.


Caroline McEnery is speaking at this year's Annual Review of Employment Law conferences

Session Title: What a Good Investigation Report Looks Like

Top trainer, expert investigator, mediator, WRC Adjudication Officer and MD of the HR Suite, Caroline McEnery, sets out how to write a good, robust investigation report and set out findings.

Caroline considers:

  • Key challenges that occur during investigations (minutes, witnesses, representation)
  • Risk Management
  • Top Tips for proactive Investigations.
  • Relevant Case Law

Find out more about the Annual Review of Employment Law 2019 conference, including the full programme, speaker list and how to book your place here (the deadline for early bird discount is 5pm this Friday 13th September 2019!):

This article is correct at 10/09/2019

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Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuite.com

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