At Dale Carnegie, we recently completed a global employee engagement survey in March this year, where we investigated what positive and negative emotions impact engagement in the workplace the most . The results indicated that Twenty-four positive and negative emotions proved to be important in consumer decision-making across many categories. In this study we discovered that only five of these twenty-four emotions drove engagement and twelve provoked disengagement.
5 – Positive Emotional Drivers
Valued – Confident – Empowered – Inspired – Enthusiastic
12 – Negative Emotional Drivers
Disinterested – Bored – Apathetic – Irritated – Insulted – Manipulated – Upset
Uncomfortable – Anxious – Vulnerable – Fearful – Intimidated
Analysis of the results showed that feeling valued, confident, inspired, enthused and empowered are the key emotions that lead to engagement. Being “valued” is the gateway to achievement. Forty-six percent of employees we surveyed, report feeling valued. However, by itself feeling valued does not generate engagement; rather it acts as an enabler for the other more positive emotions.
Experiments have shown that people are more likely to help others when feeling positive emotions. Smiling not only makes us feel better but is infectious; we can store up positive feelings to protect us from negativity and help us through difficult times. This holds as true in our working life as it does in personal life.
Feeling valued and feeling confident together, empower people to make decisions about their work and generates enthusiasm, which inspires people to try harder. Employees who are excited and enthusiastic to be at work are not just there for the pay check or the next promotion they care about the organization and work to further its goals.
The emotional responses to questions an employee asks themselves about their job and organisation can include:
• Do I feel I am valued?
• Do I value the organization where I work?
• Do I feel I belong?
These questions are crucial to their level of engagement, affecting their performance at work and their willingness to learn within the organization. Employees want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, something they can be proud of. Feeling pride in their work energises employees. They look forward to going to work and are more willing to put in extra effort to make the organization a success. In short, they are engaged.
There is a direct relationship between negative emotions and an employee’s level of engagement. Employees who feel negative emotions are disengaged nearly ten times more than employees who feel positive emotions. Almost three in ten employees feel at least one of twelve significant negative emotions as a result of their interaction with their immediate supervisor. Nearly half of these workers are disengaged and only 10% engaged, contrasting starkly with the 52% engagement measured among those who felt most positive as a result of their interaction with their supervisor.
Three core negative emotions drive disengagement: feeling Irritation, disinterest, and discomfort. Workers can't be critiqued into performing better, but being insulted by the immediate supervisor ensures an emotional disconnect and disengagement. In simple terms, a good supervisor makes people feel valued and confident; a poor supervisor irritates people and makes them feel uncomfortable.This is important because negative emotions are more contagious than positive ones. Because they are more noticeable, they can spiral from the individual employee to impact co-workers and the organization as a whole and spread beyond the workplace to clients, potential clients and possible future hires.
Employees personalize their job through emotions felt about the organization's actions as a whole and about their own supervisors in particular. An analysis performed to determine the link between supervisor and organization evoked feelings, revealing that there is a strong fit between these two measures. However, it is the immediate supervisor who is the chief emotional driver in the workplace; reactions to him or her explain 84% of how employees feel about their organization. Feeling happy is the only emotion driven more by the organization than the immediate supervisor.
Further analysis determined the link between the emotion felt by the employee and the level of satisfaction with their immediate supervisor. The immediate supervisor produces a polarizing emotional response. Managers who induce positive emotions foster a stronger sense of satisfaction. They receive the highest satisfaction ratings when they make employees feel inspired, enthusiastic, happy, and excited.
Conversely, when immediate supervisors evoke negative emotions in employees, their satisfaction ratings are below average. Specifically, supervisors whose direct reports feel insulted, upset, or irritated by them receive the lowest levels of satisfaction. Satisfaction with line management affects the overall level of satisfaction with the organization, which is linked to engagement.
Therefore, when we look to develop or hire effective managers of the future, we should give more consideration to individuals who demonstrate that they want to lead others from a place of positivity, rather than from a place of entitlement.
Trainer Dale Carnegie London
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