A Publication of WTVP

According to the results of recent research, conflicts with coworkers or supervisors and high emotional stress significantly increase the likelihood of an occupational injury. Interestingly, the lack of job satisfaction or job commitment doesn’t significantly increase the risk. This makes sense intuitively. Have you ever worked with a colleague you couldn’t stand or a chronically negative boss? It’s often unbearable.
After a particularly negative encounter with a superior, a colleague told me, “People don’t leave jobs because of difficult work. People leave jobs because of difficult bosses.” Leaders—whether working on the assembly line or in the boardroom—have a responsibility to set the emotional tone for a company. When it’s negative, work suffers.

Daniel Goleman and his colleagues’ book, Primal Leadership, summarizes its message in this manner: “If a leader resonates energy and enthusiasm, an organization thrives; if a leader spreads negativity and dissonance, it flounders.” Later, the authors write, “For too long managers have seen emotions at work as noise cluttering the rational operation of organizations. But the time for ignoring emotions as irrelevant to business has passed.”

I recently had lunch with a human resource consultant and mentioned we were considering using a standardized emotional intelligence measurement tool as a factor when hiring new employees. He told me I should stop reading MBA books and find someone who could hire the right employees for me. Puzzling, isn’t it? Negative emotional environment, higher employee turnover, higher injury rates—maybe paying more attention to the research regarding employee emotional states could have a greater positive impact on the productivity and reduction injury rates of your business. Maybe it starts with hiring employees and leaders who’ll set the right emotional tone.

I’m not placing blame on leaders and managers for workplace injuries. Unfortunately, accidents and injuries happen. Employees move on. The goal of an organization should be to remove barriers to safe work practices and implement safety measures that make work as safe as possible. It also should create an environment that makes people want to work there. What I’m espousing is that when leadership—given the financial and time burdens workers’ comp places on an organization—has an opportunity to set a positive emotional tone with employees while reducing workers’ comp costs and turnover simultaneously, doesn’t it make sense to do it?

How can your company do this? Here are a couple of suggestions. First, walk the shop floor or office corridor and get to know your employees by name. Ask them about their day. Second, when conflicts arise amongst employees, deal with them head on. No good worker, manager, or leader likes to work in an environment that breeds discord and continual employee turnover. If they do, it’s time for a change.

Emotions—it’s time to feel what’s going on around you. IBI