Creating healthy emotional culture

If your people are undergoing lesser productivity, increased incidents of mistakes, tardiness, absenteeism, or low morale, these are all normal reactions to an abnormal situation we’re having right now.

If your people are undergoing lesser productivity, increased incidents of mistakes, tardiness, absenteeism, or low morale, these are all normal reactions to an abnormal situation we’re having right now.

This does not mean that all is lost.

This crisis has provided opportunities for leaders to test not just their company’s resiliency to challenges but their ability to hold on to their core values despite some necessary pivoting in the team’s goals and objectives.

This is where the Company Culture can be most visible.

Company Culture, or sometimes called Organizational or Corporate Culture has been defined by’s Evan Tarver as, “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.

Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction, and every other aspect of operations.”

From the given definition, Company Culture most often focus much energy on guiding and aligning team members’ mindset and outward behaviors to fit the overall aspirations and best practices of the organization. This is what we call the Cognitive Culture.

Image source: Gagen MacDonald

Sigal Barsade, the Joseph Frank Bernstein Professor of Management at Wharton, shares in his article that Cognitive Culture is “the shared intellectual values, norms, artifacts, and assumptions that serve as a guide for the group to thrive.

Cognitive culture sets the tone for how employees think and behave at work—for instance, how customer-focused, innovative, team-oriented, or competitive they are or should be.”

He went on further that although Cognitive Culture is highly valuable in building a good Corporate Culture, we have to remember that paying attention to the EMOTIONAL CULTURE is equally important in creating a healthy working team. Professionalism and productivity are not devoid of emotions.

In fact, recognizing and building people’s emotional intelligence and skills are key factors in driving engagement, efficiency, effectivity, and long-term commitment within any organization.

Here are some tips from Bridget Miller’s article on Emotional Culture at

What Can Employers Do to Encourage a Healthy Emotional Culture?

· Train managers and supervisors to manage emotional conversations with care and compassion. Emotional conversations may mean angry or upset employees, which is difficult but shouldn’t be banned.

· Think about what the organization values and what emotions and attitudes the organization wants to encourage to coincide with those values.

· Watch for signs of negative emotions at the workplace—things like envy, boredom, fear, and anger. The presence of these types of emotions indicates an opportunity to change something about the workplace.

· Regularly conduct employee engagement surveys that include questions about how comfortable employees feel with expressing their frustrations or being able to communicate openly about their feelings or needs. Ask if they enjoy their workplace, and ask if they feel the workplace is a welcoming environment.

· Encourage managers not to label employees based on how they express their emotions. For example, don’t condone labels such as “pessimistic,” “negative,” or “emotional”; rather, encourage managers to look at which behaviors they want to foster and determine how that can be accomplished.

· Take employee conversations seriously, even when emotional components make them uncomfortable. Act on problems to address employee concerns and frustrations, and ensure employees feel they’re able to come to someone—their manager, HR, someone else, etc.—with any concerns or frustrations.

· Create an inviting atmosphere that reflects the company culture and values.

· When there are barriers to creating and keeping the emotional culture as desired, address them. For example, if some employees or managers are making others feel uncomfortable or hindering their expression, this should be addressed.

· Pay attention to whether employees seem stressed or burnt out, and take action to reduce these problems.

· Assess whether the layout of the workspace encourages the type of culture you’d like to foster. Do employees face one another? Are there spaces for collaboration? Is there an appropriate amount of privacy, too? Are managers interacting with employees? How is the hierarchy exemplified in the layout?

· Consider offering training on emotional intelligence.

· Pay attention to energy levels and emotional expression in the hiring process, as well.

· Consider offering ways to keep emotions in a healthy balance, like meditation spaces.

· Pay attention to employee lives and how they intersect with work lives. Work does not exist in a vacuum.*

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