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Prioritising Emotions at Work: Creating Supportive Workplace Cultures

It’s World Mental Health Day, and what an important day to acknowledge, and to pause and reflect on what this means for everyone and anyone. How does your culture support mental health, how do your leaders manage and support mental health, and do your employees have the right resources at their fingertips to truly seek the support they need?

These questions are as important as mental health in the workplace and need our attention always. A simple exercise of what’s working and what’s not working as far as mental health goes can certainly give you some areas to focus on. However, there is a much bigger agenda to tackle here in our view – and that is to prioritize emotions at work. Tapping into emotions reveals so much more than you may know.

Emotion for us is the key – it’s about unlocking feelings and moods that people have every day and managing those individuals to be the best version of themselves always. The research shows that happy and contented individuals are stronger performers because they feel better in themselves. If we can support a healthy and robust organization by tapping into emotions, we will see growth in our employees and the organization, greater recognition and empowerment, and a real link to the mission and purpose of the organization and a real sense of belonging.

The CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work 2022 survey identified the top three benefits of employers increasing their focus on employee wellbeing:

- A healthier and more inclusive culture.

- Better work-life balance.

- Better employee morale and engagement.

Josh Bersin refers to a healthy organisation as being the next big thing in employee wellbeing. He references a healthy organisation's maturity model that has four levels; the healthy organization level is where employee wellbeing is embedded into the culture.

This stems from the saying that ‘if you don’t ask, you won’t know’, and this is exactly what we know to be true. One client of ours, a school, starting using our platform at the beginning of the pandemic and their biggest takeaway was, ‘the people they thought were okay, were actually the ones that were not okay.’ They said that if they didn’t check-in regularly tapping into emotions and mood, they would never have known that some people needed more support than others, particularly those they thought were doing well. The psychological safety of employees is paramount which is why emotions and feelings need to be heard and supported.

The Adecco Group published a whitepaper recently on the future role of the Chief People Officer. According to Adecco’s research, they found that one of the top 3 key insights into the human-centric challenges relevant for the future role of people management executives is ‘Engaging with Employee Emotions at Work’, and future Chief People Officers increasingly need to measure – and implement processes and policies to improve – employee emotions at work.

Organisational distance has never been greater than the last few years, with many people working remotely. That has bought about many different and varied emotions in people. Loneliness has been a strong emotion expressed by many over this time and felt by many struggling with mental health issues or major worries in life. Another way of working is playing out with mandates to return to the office 2 or 3 days a week, and again many different and varied emotions are being felt. Tapping into these is essential for retention, growth, and long-term happiness. We must never underestimate the vulnerability that many people feel, and we must do everything to support them, regardless of their situation. Tapping into these emotions and feelings is the key to building a robust culture of wellbeing at work.

If we have the right processes in place to tap into emotions, we can monitor them regularly and then deal with any issues as they arise. We must take any assumptions out of the equation and give the employee the opportunity to voice their emotions and their concerns in a safe environment.

Managers also are an integral part of the employee’s support network for their mental health and wellbeing. So much has been written about the new competencies and skills managers need for the future of work – trust, compassion, empathy – to name a few. Building these skills is also important for building a culture that will survive the test of time and support a healthy workplace.

For us, we believe that tapping into emotions and understanding how people feel in their everyday work and life supports their performance, their development, their engagement and ultimately their wellbeing. We support mental health and employee wellbeing, and we are here to enable a better understanding of how people feel in order for individuals and organisations to thrive.


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