by Liza Manalo-Mapagu

Have You Checked Your Company’s Emotional Culture (EC) Lately?

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”

-Dale Carnegie

For the first weeks of our Community Quarantine where companies are mostly on “work-from-home”, I shared articles on how strategies on “remote management”. If you missed reading the article, just click right here to catch up;  “Top 6 Insights In Planning and Implementing Work-From-Home (WFH): A CEO Perspective”.

While leading and managing my team remotely, I realized all my efforts are all going towards understanding their emotions— how they feel, and how I can support them in addressing their negative emotions to more positive emotions.

My interest in understanding emotions is reinforced by feedback from the readers, and inputs from our clients and partners— and this led to a more interesting topic which is emotional culture (EC).

This pandemic is causing a lot of stress, and it brings out many emotions. Given the fear of the unknown, a range of negative emotions surfaced and they can challenge the patience and capability of managers and leaders.

I will not bore you on the theoretical principles of EC but let us discuss the practical aspects of EC in the context of how we can help people in the organization by educating our managers on the value of EC in the organization.

In this article, I will answer three questions:

What is Emotional Culture?

We have been using the term corporate culture which usually refers to the “cognitive culture”– the shared intellectual values, norms, artifacts, and assumptions that serve as a guide for the group to thrive.
What about “Emotional Culture”? As defined by Barsade and O’Neill, “emotional culture is about shared affective values, norms, artifacts, and assumptions that govern which emotions people have at work- both expressed, and suppressed. ”

So the question is—“What are the prevailing emotions of most of the people in your organization today? Are they positive or negative?” This is not just the feeling of a few people on few days. These are the collective emotions that become consistently demonstrated through a long period of time across teams and departments.

Actual: What are the emotions currently experienced?

Expected: Given the situation, realistically, what emotions are excepted from them?

Aspirational: Desired emotions, in terms of nature and degree of emotion

Now that most of our people are working from home, and bombarded by the many bad news by the media, and affected by potential problems at home, there are prevailing negative emotions among the people we work or supervise with.

At HR Avatar, we came up with 10 Emotional Dimensions ranging from negative to positive:

Having a sound body precedes a sound mind and a sound spirit. A highly energetic person is necessary for higher engagement and productivity.

Want to Know More About HR Avatar’s Emotional Vibe Index (EVI)?

Using a quick online survey, the managers can gauge individual group emotional vibe periodically. For the period of community quarantine, I suggest a weekly check of their emotional condition.

HR can help managers in:

a) Assessing Employee Emotions

Using the above 10 dimensions, each employee can be assessed on where they are from negative to positive levels on each dimension. It has been proven that employees’ engagement is higher in organizations that values emotional well-being. High-performing organizations are those that invest time and effort in reaching out to their employees, understand their emotions, and help them improve their employees’ emotional well-being.

HR Avatar developed a 5 minute-survey which will provide employees’ feedback on the 10 emotional dimensions.

b) How Managers Address Each Emotional State
Using the Emotional Vibe Index (EVI), the manager needs to prioritize the people needing one-on-one feedback sessions or conversations. Managers can open up discussion on organizational matters that may affect their feelings and attitudes about doing their jobs

How to Build the Desired Emotional Culture?

To create a positive emotional culture, the Institute of Public Relations has recommended the following strategies based on best practices of managers and leaders in 20 diverse industry sectors:

  • Recognize and understand the important role of emotional culture in fostering positive employee attitudes and generating supportive employee behaviors;
  • Not only care about employees’ emotional well-being but also invest resources in cultivating an emotional culture infused with positive emotions of companionate love, joy, pride, and gratitude.
  • Positive emotional culture can be shaped through strategic internal communications. Leaders and communication managers should adopt an employee-centered communication mindset and system that are two-way and dialogic; value listening, feedback, employee voice, and participation; and show genuine care for employees’ interests and feelings;
  • Promote a responsive, caring, compassionate, warm, and friendly leadership communication style in day-to-day interactions across the organization;
  • Walk the talk by expressing positive emotions proactively, such as joy, pride, gratitude, and companionate love, which not only create a positive emotional culture but also show the genuine, authentic, human side of the leader.
  • Utilize “high-touch” communication channels beyond high-tech media. As Sherry Scott, president of Gagen MacDonald and contributing editor of IPR’s Organizational Communication Research Center, noted, to manage outreach and build requisite trust effectively, leaders need to “humanize the message and the messenger through high-touch communication strategies…,” as “trust is built on human connections, not technology” (Scott, 2018). Despite the numerous benefits that come with workplace technologies, such as enterprise social media, the advantage of high-touch face-to-face channels in communicating complex emotions cannot be replaced.
  • Foster collaboration among leaders at all levels, communication, and human resource managers to design and implement a system, work environment, and communication programs that acknowledge and respect emotions and reinforce the manifestation of positive emotional culture.

Like the corporate culture, promoting the desired emotional culture starts at the top. The CEO models the way and sets the tone which all leaders and managers can mirror and learn from. 

Harvard Business Review indicates a “long line of research on emotional contagion shows that people in groups “catch” feelings from others through behavioral mimicry and subsequent changes in brain function.” For instance, regularly walking into a room smiling with high energy, one is more likely to create a culture of joy than if one wears a neutral expression. Employees will smile back and start to mean it. This goes with negative feelings as well. 

The employee experience that the leaders of the organizations can “feel” them on a personal level is important for them to connect with the people, and make them feel they are valued and recognized. Hyper-personalization where every manager and leader know the person at the emotional level is good start, and it can lead to stronger connections between the employee and employer.

“Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the organization”.
-David Cummings


ASEAMETRICS is an HR Consulting firm established to provide solutions to help companies solve talent-related business problems. They are an expert at providing technology-based solutions to help companies identify, develop, and manage the human resource for business success, today and in the future.

Integrated into the company’s high-impact services are advanced technologies through HR Avatar (for E-Testing), Udemy (for E-Learning and Competency Development), Arbinger (for E-Learning – Mindset Change), Withiii (E-Organizational Development), ESM (E-Strategy Management), and HopeChat VP (E-Psychological Services).

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