Feb 092016
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Can a Smiley Face Tell Management How Employees Feel?

A company’s culture can influence employee satisfaction, burnout, teamwork, and absenteeism. Studies show that emotions can have a significant impact on how people perform, how engaged they are at work, how creative they are, how committed they are to the organization, and even how they make decisions. Positive emotions are associated with better performance; negative emotions usually lead to negative outcomes.

Many leaders tend to underestimate or ignore what shapes a company’s culture. That can be a mistake because all organizations have an emotional culture, which can range from elation to suppression.

Is it possible to measure your employees’ emotional state? Yes, it is. How can you measure it? How about a smiley face? The employees of Ubiquity Retirement + Savings press a button as they leave the lobby at the end of the day to indicate their emotions. They can choose a smiley face if they felt happy at work that day, a frowny face if they felt sad, or a button in-between.Smiley Faces - Transparent

Why is this important? Because organizations have emotions. Many companies recognize and manage this by incorporating emotions and fun in their corporate culture. Southwest Airlines is probably one that most people recognize as a company that shows love and caring for its employees and its customers. Their employees have fun while they work, and it permeates the organization.

The emotional climate of an organization can be readily apparent. What does it tell you if you see an absence of smiles and welcoming comments? The next time you check into a hotel, notice how you are greeted. Does the staff make you feel welcome? Do they remember your name when you walk through the lobby later in the evening? Notice how co-workers treat each other. What do their facial expressions tell you? Also notice if they are pleasant, upbeat, and collegial towards each other.  It can be a sign of a well-trained staff.

Nearly 30 years ago the social psychologist Phil Shaver and colleagues found that people can reliably distinguish among 135 emotions. The most basic are joy, love, anger, fear, and sadness. Such things as special outings, celebrations, and rewards all support the emotional culture of an organization.

Niko Niko (http://www.nikoniko.co/) is an app the tracks emotions. This app makes it fun and easy to capture your mood throughout the day. Powerful analytics enable your team to know how everyone is feeling, creating an open, honest, positive environment for peak performance.

An article by Beatriz Arantes, a psychologist and senior researcher at Steelcase, stated that organizations need to consider much more than just the physical health of employees; they need to take a holistic approach to well-being. The article also mentioned three ways an organization can create environments that support positive emotions and help build productive, collaborative, and creative workers. They are:

1.   Encourage a sense of belonging
2.   Help people see their worth
3.   Encourage engagement by promoting mindfulness

Emotional culture should be supported at all levels, but it starts at the top. Top management models it. They have to practice it and understand that emotions they express at work reflect the culture. Employees need to know what is expected of them, and incorporate it into the performance management system. You can measure it on inclusiveness, welcoming, approachable, and positive behaviors.

As Michael Margolis stated, “If you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories. If you want to change a culture, change the stories.”

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