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Intense emotions

Feb 11, 20032 mins
Data Center

* Study finds employees have strong feelings about their work

Employees have some pretty strong feelings about their work, but unfortunately those feelings aren’t positive, according to the results of a study called “Working Today: Exploring Employees’ Emotional Connection to Their Jobs.” 

Management and HR consulting firm Towers Perrin partnered with emotions researcher Gang & Gang to conduct the survey. The research is based on interviews with 1,100 employees working for midsize to large corporations across North America, and supplemented with interviews with about 300 HR executives.

Overall, 55% of respondents’ current emotion about work is negative, and one-third is intensely negative. “Right now, there is an enormous gap between employees’ current and ideal work experience. People know what they want and need to feel intensely positive about their work, but unfortunately many are not getting it,” says Mark Mactas, chairman and CEO of Towers Perrin.

What’s bringing people down? Five elements account for most of this negativity:

* An excessive workload.

* Concerns about management’s ability to lead the company forward.

* Anxiety about the future, particularly long-term job, income and retirement security.

* Lack of challenge.

* Insufficient recognition and concerns that pay isn’t commensurate with performance.

Negative emotion is tied to higher turnover and lower productivity. Positive emotion correlates with better financial results, as measured by stock prices. While this might be common sense, it’s interesting that survey data shows a statistically valid relationship between emotion and company performance.

The survey also asked workers to describe their ideal work experience. Some of the most important elements included:

* A sense of self-woth.

* Results.

* Rewards and recognition.

“If a company could deliver on the elements of the work experience critical to strong positive employee emotion – specifically around employee confidence, competence, control and community – our research suggests that employees’ emotional investment at work would shift dramatically, prompting precisely the level of dedication and commitment so important to employers right now,” Mactas says.

For a more detailed look at the survey results, go to