Why Emotional Culture Matters at Work

Emotion is an important part of every human being and can be caused by many factors surrounding a person. Emotion generates a feeling in someone that affects how they function and treat those around them. In a work environment, emotion has a lot of impact on employees’ relations with each other and the output by each person at work.

Thus, emotional intelligence is important at any given workplace. Emotion at a workplace can be made good and convenient by an employer or work environment, while there are work areas that are unconducive therefore causing negative emotion to those working there. A culture is a behaviour or habit or pattern of occurrences. Emotional culture is normally brought out through actions and expressions, the way one acts. In work environments where there are virtues of love, fun and peace, employees are most productive, while those exposed to anger, and a lot of hostility are less productive. Any working environment has great impact on workers mental state, creativity, productivity and in the end the product and work quality.

When people hear the phrase emotional culture, they mainly think of the negative aspect of emotion, anger and bad feelings. It is important that emotional culture be thought of as a positive thing that should build and be positively productive. 

Even during job search, people begin by looking out for jobs that are cool, fun and where working is conducive and not stressful. This is because emotional culture is powerful in generating results. In the world today, there are plenty of difficulties and hardships that people are going through and handle, yet the same people are expected to go to work and deliver.

A company or organization that promotes emotional culture within its employees has learnt the key to happy, motivated and productive employees. Even when such a company finds itself with distributed branches and outlets in other areas, the taskforce is glued together by the strong emotional culture, therefore enhancing productivity. 

Working at such a company where employees’ emotional state is well cared for is also a good platform for an individual to grow and have a great personal life. Research and surveys carried out on emotional intelligence at workplaces show that workplaces with bad emotional culture in most cases abuse labour laws, while those where employees have a cool environment to work in enjoy basic and even complex rights and allowances.

Each company has emotional culture

Every company, big or small, has an emotional culture, whether a good or suppressive emotional culture. Companies can work on emotional culture through many simple ways including just a meeting where people gather and talk, take fun pictures, mingle and enjoy. Photos taken at such gatherings can speak volumes on employees’ emotional state and culture. Activities where employees often meet and mingle including team buildings help build the emotional culture of a company and the employees. This is good as employees are human and not operational machines. Employees must therefore be treated as human beings to make them deliver better. A good environment can take care of the state, emotions and feelings of every employee alike as all persons are different.

Emotional culture starts from the very top

There are elements of an organization’s traits that begin from the very top of an organization. The management of any organization determines the environment of work and eventually the emotional culture within the organization. I a company such as Aldo Group, the values of ‘infusion of a socialist ideology’ are well rooted from the founders of the company and this has employees treating every person that visits and works within the company kindly, making the emotional culture of Aldo Group conducive to all and very lovely. Even with the company having numerous employees that are based in the various branches, the emotional culture remains well and fun.

When a company has a top management changed, emotional culture sometimes experiences change. The culture might change from good to bad and vice versa. To work on good emotional culture for any company means aligning the entire company towards a common goal to be achieved by each person, beginning from the very top. With eyes on similar values and vision, then the management is reminded each day of the need to stay put and focused to achieve.

In every aspect in life, there are people that are contagious or rather influence a lot around them. Culture is sometimes contagious with some people picking up feelings and emotions of others. This means that the state of an employee has an impact on those around them. If a manager walks into a room smiling and jovial, the chances of people responding when jovial are very high as compared to the one who steps in angry and yelling at everyone. This is because emotions are two ways. People reciprocate emotions most of the time.

Freedom of expression aids emotional culture

Companies also need to develop a culture of allowing expression by employees. When employees express their feelings and opinions, it allows them to vent out and makes them feel appreciated or that their opinion matters. With the growth in technology, new software now exists that enables companies to monitor emotional culture. 

Such software includes Niko where employees key in their emotions and feelings each day at work, helping the company keep tabs on the emotional state and productivity of the employees. With this, employees are challenged to ensure good emotional state and productivity and good for the company, when an employee is keen on doing things well, then productivity is higher.

Every day before employees leave work at Ubiquity Retirement and Savings, they press a certain button at the lobby. This is not to simply log out and leave, but to sign in their emotions. The process offers five buttons for employees to choose from, buttons of frowny face and happy face.

This may sound like a gimmick but for this specific company, this is a good way to build on and monitor emotional culture within the work environment. The company is through this able to identify factors that motivate employees and keep them happy and productive. Companies use various methods nowadays including applications that help employees to record how much fun and good they are having while at work. There are other companies that subcontract consulting firms that specialize on tracking the moods of employees at work. This can be done hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. 

This said, the number of companies that do this for employees are minimal as majority of companies and employers don’t care much about the emotional state of employees. They don’t realize the impact emotional culture has on productivity and work. Most people relate to corporate culture, where each company has its own formal culture where employees are used to a certain way of doing things. This is generally company norms and daily habits and is like cognitive culture.

Employees that need to be very compassionate, especially those working in the health sector, have become indifferent and cold. People who would benefit from a culture of fun and joy instead of pain and anger, people with no fear like security personnel are now not concerned anymore about emotions, even their own. The effects are evident with people expecting services being served by rude and harsh workers who in return channel the same bad emotions to those they serve.

Happy employees, better productivity

Following research in previous time, it has been found that emotional culture has great impact on employee productivity, burnout, teamwork, and even financial performance and absenteeism. Many analysis and studies show the effect of emotions on the way people perform on any given work, how committed and creative they are to their course, how and the way they make decisions. Positive emotions yield better results. With good quality, and customer satisfaction.

When company managers don’t invest in emotional culture, they’re failing to invest in a key and important part of what makes people. Most of them may understand the importance of emotional culture in theory but continue to shy away from putting effort to work on it. Managers instead prefer to influence how employees think and behave at work and feel incapable of understanding the importance of managing the way employees feel and express their emotions when at work. Some find handling employees emotions to be irrelevant, not related to professionalism and to their job.

Management and Emotional Culture

During research and when conducting interviews with top company executives and employees, some have confessed that their workplaces lack common emotion and culture. However, this is not true as every company has emotional culture, as discussed earlier in the article. It is good for people, leaders and even those working below them, understand that emotional culture, good or oppressive does exist. By avoiding emotions at a workplace, but also understanding and keenly taking care of them, leaders can help to motivate their employees.

There are companies that have started to openly include emotions as part of their management principles, and they attribute their success to employees having fun at work. Getting a comprehensive detail on a company’s emotional culture and then managing it requires being sure that the mission statement is upheld manage it, you have to make sure that what is codified in mission statements and corporate. The details entail simple gestures and not bold declarations of feelings and emotions. For instance, simple acts of kindness and employees support can lead to an emotional culture that is about kindness and compassion.

Key aspects of emotional culture

Gestures, facial expressions and body language are key in emotional culture. When a manager always comes to work when angry, he is likely to grow a culture of anger. This occurrence is very common as consistent actions become habits. Some time back, a social psychologist, Shaver, together with his colleagues, made a discovery that people mainly distinguish among 135 emotions.

But mainly understand the most basic ones of them which are joy, love, anger, fear and sadness. This is a good place to begin for any leader who intends to manage an emotional culture. The emotions can play in an organization in various ways.

Culture of Joy

Promoting the virtue of joy among employees helps customers receive the joy as well. This matters most in industries such as the hospitality industry as employees meet clients a lot of times.

Culture of Love

This is another emotion that has intensively been researched and reviewed, most companies experience compassionate love among employees. This is when there is a degree of affection, caring, and compassion that employees share toward each other.

In a research and study at a long-term-care facility, researchers found that employees in units with firm emotional cultures of companionate love had few absenteeism cases, were rarely tired, and had better teamwork and enjoyed great job satisfaction than fellow colleagues in other units with negative emotional culture. Employees are also able to perform better at work as shown by fulfilled patients and clients, where patients and clients have better mood.

Culture of Fear

Nuclear submarines are expected to accomplish their missions of ensuring security and safety, and their performance depends largely on the skill and judgment of the team. Marquet says that the unending fear of being yelled at had made it difficult for sailors to reason and think well and respond quickly. His Opinion is supported by research by the Berkeley faculty Emeritus Barry together with his colleagues on the consistent behaviour to narrow a person’s focus when they are under threat and by results on the impact of a lot of stress. It affects important functions such as judgment, recall, and desire control.

Marquet reversed that emotional culture by ensuring the crew is more involved like by empowering members to make decisions and by not punishing them for every mistake. As a result, the crew members became more confident and accountable for their actions and were less inclined to just waiting for directives and commands from the commanding officer.

The changes yielded good results. Marquet led the crew and the ship from one that was low performing to one that was now award-winning, and 10 of his crew officers went on to being submarine captains.

It is evident that fear can be bad, but even good emotions could yield unintentional side effects when allowed to have much influence. In a culture of absolute fun and joy, work might be affected. In a culture of love, where all feel like they are family, employees might find it hard to have sincere conversations about issues. This may have people pretend and not talk openly to avoid getting in the way of love and peace around them. From time to time organizations stay away from those problems because many emotions balance one another.


Like all other emotions, companionate love may result to many outcomes, depending on what the love works with. An example of the way emotions interconnect is by the Católica-Lisbon professor Sguera. Where in a study of a big medical centre in the United States, research found that emotional culture was mainly defined by anxiety and anger. The medical centre’s punishment-based “opinion system” covered the anxiety: “If called in sick, they get a point,” one worker wrote. 

“If you are a minute late for work, you get a point. We mainly feel as though we are obligations to the department, as disposable as gauze.” The rampant anxiety resulted to many negative outcomes like low economic performance, tiredness and being unhappy at work.

Units with a strong anxiety culture had companionate love, and employee output and attitudes matched that in units that lower anxiety. The culture of companionate love basically aided as a remedy to the anxiety, by reducing the negative impact on the bottom line mainly on the gross profit margin through balancing the negative effects on the employee actions and behaviour. Even though employees showed a lot of anxiety and experienced it all around them, the thought that they were cared for by their fellow workers made it possible for them to deal with it.

Cultivating emotional culture at a place of work

To cultivate a specific emotional culture, one requires to get people to identify and feel emotions that are valued by the company or team.

There are employees who will experience the preferred company emotions naturally. This is possible in rare times of compassion or appreciation, for instance. When similar feelings arise often, it shows one is building the culture they prefer. If people experience the feeling occasionally and need assistance handling them, you can consider including some gentle bumps when working. One might create some time to meditate or provide caring apps on employees work devices so as to remind them to relax or they can come up with a congratulatory site or board, like those found in an ICU where staff can write kind words about fellow employees.

Cultivate Positive Emotional Culture

One may ask what to do with toxic emotions in trying to cultivate positive emotional culture. How does one reduce toxic emotions? It’s vital to listen to employees when they express their issues as it helps employees to feel that they are listened to and heard. That does not mean one should encourage rude talk or simply allow emotions flow with little to try solving the problems. According to research consistent venting can result to bad results. Loneliness for instance may lead to poor performance at work. There are also negative emotions, and these spread quite fast, leading to so much frustration and poor productivity.

Therefore, companies must establish the emotions they wish to cultivate in the company. When employees fail to experience the expected emotion at a specific moment, they can continue to help protect their organization’s emotional culture. This is because people show emotions both naturally and at times selectively when at work. Social psychology research has for a long time proved that people tend to adapt to group habits of emotions expression, following what others do hoping and wanting to be accepted and loved. So employees in a very strong emotional culture and environment who may not otherwise feel and share the valued emotion mainly begin to demonstrate it, even as their first enthusiasm is to fit in and not to share and stick to the culture.

No matter the reason, this helps the organization, not only the employees striving to fit in. In first anthropological studies of group practices, strategic emotions expression was discovered to help in group unity by having more power on a person’s feelings and bringing together personal behaviour.

A company’s physical environment determines how people feel, what employees do and the way they should express themselves at work. For instance, at a cocktail and snacks fast food, the pictures and posters reflect fun and joy. In a hospital environment also, posters of silence in the ICU area reflect a sad state. All these influence people in different ways.

Therefore maintaining the right culture and attitude is sometimes about ignoring what one really feels and their immediate reaction to what they see and what is around them.

Deep acting

A good way to grow a perfect emotion is by what we can call “deep acting.” Through deep acting, a person makes an important effort to attain ascertain feeling and with time, they attain that feeling. Fortunately, all the many ways discussed of generating an emotional culture, whether they entail having a real feeling or just acting like they feel it, could have us grow the culture in us and in others. 

With time people don’t need to act but feel free to express good actions naturally. People who start by showing an emotion out of wanting to fit in with time begin to naturally feel everything through emotion. They also receive positive feeling from the way people around them treat them. This makes them more likely to show these emotions again.