Top 5 Ways To Build An Emotionally Intelligent Company Culture

You’ve most likely contemplated your company culture in terms of pursuing a common mission or establishing productive behaviors. But how much time have you spent thinking about your company’s emotional culture? The Harvard Business Review recently made an important distinction between a company’s cognitive culture and its emotional culture, which is a bit more elusive – and typically not managed nearly as expertly as cognitive culture.


It turns out that managing emotional culture, which is often unspoken and comprises employees’ personal values and feelings, is an immensely important part of building a healthy company culture. Not only does it influence employees’ quality of life, but it can also influence the bottom line by reducing employee sick days and burnout. Fortunately, even if you’ve never thought about your company’s emotional culture, it’s possible to learn how to address emotions in the workplace.


Here’s how you can start building a more positive emotional culture in your workplace:


1. Improve emotional intelligence.

To build a positive company culture, company leaders need to be emotionally intelligent. More than just being able to identify employees’ emotions, company leaders need to understand how their words and actions influence the company’s emotional environment. For example, learning to pay attention to body language can help a manager find ways to create a more approachable presence. Similarly, moods are “contagious,” meaning that employees will typically be responsive to leaders who model positive energy.


2. Include emotions in the workplace.

There are numerous ways to show employees that it’s all right to display emotions in the workplace. Some companies choose to put formal systems in place to check in with employees at regular intervals and thereby track employees’ emotions over time. Another effective option is simply to encourage company leaders to lead by example, perhaps by being open about a difficulty, by asking employees genuine questions about how they’re feeling, or by being responsive to employees who open up about their emotions.


3. Pay attention to the physical environment.

The office space itself is often overlooked as a way to build a positive workplace culture. Creating communal spaces with inviting furniture, decorations, event boards, or similar touches can help employees feel at home in the workplace. In a similar vein, allowing employees to put up pictures or decorations can go a long way in helping employees feel invested in the workplace.


4. Focus on collaboration.

It’s tempting to focus on building competition among employees as a way to encourage each employee to put forth his or her best effort. Unfortunately, competition also creates a stressful culture that can lead to burnout and a toxic emotional atmosphere. A better solution is to support employee collaboration, encouraging employees to increase productivity by helping each other.


5. Go outside the office.

If you truly want to build a company culture based on mutual caring, then it’s essential for employees to get to know each other outside the context of the office. A simple way to do this is to allow employees to discuss their personal lives within the office. Another effective method for encouraging employees to take an interest in each others’ well-being is to hold events outside the office space, or even outside office hours. Going out to lunch as a group, holding an after-hours party, or planning a similar excursion can be a great way to help employees build trust and positive feelings.


By being careful about modeling a positive company culture, it’s typically possible to turn even a negative culture into a supportive atmosphere. Not only will this boost productivity, but it’ll make the workday more pleasant overall.


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