Help staff overcome negative emotions

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Negative emotions can have a detrimental effect on performance

Improving emotional control can help elevate the resilience and wellbeing of staff, according to Anne Clews, director of training and coaching firm TetraMap.

Speaking at O2’s annual Women in Leadership event, Clews explained the impact that negative emotions can have on employees and their ability to do their best work. “When you experience stressful emotions that can seriously affect your health and wellbeing,” she said. “Some emotions have a draining effect, and some have a renewing effect, and it is important to recognise how that affects your work.”

She warned that ongoing negative emotional states can cause physical changes in the body. “Negative emotions trigger biochemical reactions,” she said. “This has an impact on our hormonal balances, and affects our heart rates. That can have a massive impact on how you perceive and feel and could cause a cognitive shutdown, affecting your performance.”

She suggested that teaching staff ways to let go of negative emotions and focus on positive ones could therefore increase their wellbeing and ability. “When you experience positive emotions your heart rhythm becomes steady,” she said. “This allows for greater mental clarity and is better for your health.”

Ann Pickering, HR director for O2, told HR magazine that leaders especially need to be aware of how their emotional state is affecting employees. “When you are a leader people look to you to lead,” she said. “They need to see confidence, and being able to manage your emotional state is essential for that.”

She suggested the best way to encourage this is to be an empathetic employer. “You need to understand your people have a life outside of the office, and try to take a holistic approach,” she said. “It sounds cheesy, but your people really can do their best work when you allow them to bring their whole selves into work.

“At O2 we provide flexible benefits as one way of encouraging this. Staff have a choice of benefits, but we also have an EAP in place that offers advice on anything from debt management to emotional support.

“What you invest in this you get back in spades,” she added.

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