Study: How Emotions Influence Employee Engagement

  • Brace
  • July 17, 2018
  • 4 min

Workplace engagement and the emotions of employees are inextricably intertwined. This is the suggestion in a newly-published study by Dale Carnegie. In it, the institute explores the relationship between engagement and emotion, and details the most useful feelings for individual careers, as well as for the success of a company.

Wherever there are people, there are emotions. Pride, anger, annoyance. Feelings in the workplace are an everyday occurrence. Rather than being a disturbance, these emotions are integral in work life and are of corresponding importance. Not only are they significant, they are hard to separate from career success. In short, for every decision made, the emotional aspect plays a large role. A career is only possible with feeling.

Emotions as a Driving Force

There are many studies that focus on the percentages of engaged employees, however, few explore what motivates employees. It is in this gap that the Dale Carnegie study fits. Their research, in cooperation with MSW Research, investigates the emotional elements that influence employee engagement. For their sample, 1,500 employees were surveyed worldwide, and from this, 28 positive and negative emotions were compiled.

The Results

From the study, a direct connection between emotion and employee engagement became apparent. The more positive the feelings of the employee, the more engaged they were in the company. Of the 28 emotions compiled, 5 proved to be drivers of engagement, while 12 showed themselves to be engagement killers.

Enthusiastic Employees are More Engaged

Appreciation, confidence, inspiration, excitement, and empowerment are key emotions for employee motivation. In the study, the feeling of being important proved to be especially effective, with 46 percent of the participants claiming to feel appreciated at work. Moreover, feeling important is a necessary precondition for other, even stronger positive emotions. Together, appreciation and confidence are a powerful combination that facilitates enthusiasm for the company and empowers people to make decisions in the workplace. With this as a basis, employees are more inspired to make full use of all the personal resources that they can contribute. Workers that are motivated and engaged in the workplace aren’t just interested in their wage, but rather have personal interest in and actively pursue the goals of the company.
In contrast to engaged workers, employees that experience negative emotions are up to 10 times less motivated. There are 3 emotions that are directly correlated to a loss of motivation: Irritation, disinterest, and lack of confidence.

Satisfaction is in the Hands of the Boss

The study additionally suggests that the feelings generated in an organization and by leadership are strongly interconnected. Of these, direct managers play a more influential role: Respondents placed 84 percent of the responsibility on their direct leader for how they feel about the company. Building on this, the connection between the perceived emotions of employees and the degree of satisfaction with their direct leadership was explored. People in managerial roles can inspire polarizing emotional reactions. On the one hand, managers that produced positive emotions received a higher rate of satisfaction. They also generated the most agreement with their decisions when employees felt inspired, enthusiastic, satisfied, and excited. On the other hand, leadership that produced negative feelings received only a below average rate of satisfaction.

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kununu engage is an application that allows you and your entire company to share continuous and anonymous feedback about what working in the company is like. This insight and transparency can help a company function better and build a stronger company culture.