Emotion at work

May 12, 2011

The Irish Times had an interesting article on Tuesday on managing grief in the workplace, and in particular, the impact on the bottom line.  It’s not often you see something in the main stream media about the value/impact of emotion at work. Bereavement and redundancy are the two issues explored

It makes good business sense to learn the appropriate humane responses to help staff feel valued and supported at difficult times in their lives……International research has found that mishandling such situations can have wide and long lasting implications in terms of lost productivity and unnecessary staff turnover.

Unfortunately the article falls into the trap of viewing emotion as an individual issue that has to be managed unless there’s a ‘negative’ impact on the bottom line.  Managing individuals’ responses to redundancy (either those who are leaving or those who are staying) is a bigger and richer issue than simply offering support to individuals.  These grieving events should not be seen as extra-ordinary – rather, a part of work life in the same way as every other emotion is part of work life.  I wonder what organisations would look like if we could have a more meaningful conversation about emotion – organisations as emotional and emotion generating – as well as emotion as an individual phenomenon?

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