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Emotions and promotions

Hakaan Ozcelik

Though employers may not admit it, the office is not an emotion-free zone.

“We like to think of the work environment as a place without emotion,” says organizational
behavior and environment professor Hakan Ozcelik. “But there is a climate of emotion in each office and that has an effect on every one who works there.”

Ozcelik’s research on emotional fit at work was named best paper at the 2005 Academy of Management Conference. He collected data from 257 employees at 11 organizations in British Columbia about the emotional atmosphere in the work unit, such as how co-workers express their emotions, the work pace, the job requirements and the physical setting.

Ozcelik says he found that in an intense, hyperactive workplace—a “high activation” emotional climate—people
with personalities that are active and energetic tended to have a stronger commitment to their organizations. They were less concerned about expressing their true emotions to others as compared to those who were quieter.

Ozcelik says that his findings reveal a potential tension between organizations and employees. “You could suggest that organizations are more inclined to promote a higher activation of emotional climates to increase the energy level among employees and the pace of work,” he says. “Yet, some employees tend to seek lower activation emotional climates to maintain their emotional resources and focus on their work responsibilities.”

Ozcelik says that emotional misfit can make employees emotionally exhausted. “They come home and wonder why they are tired. I think is has to do with using up all their emotional reserves at work and not having enough time to replenish them.”

Ozcelik says that emotional exhaustion can lead to decreased engagement at work. And companies can face higher employee turnover as a result.


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