There are many things that can contribute to either negative or positive emotions in the workplace. Employees may feel frustrated by a lack of support or satisfied when they receive a promotion. Managers may feel stressed from being required to attend too many meetings or have a sense of pride in the progress their team has made. Business owners may feel anxious about how petrol price increases will affect their business or enthusiastic about the start of a new year.  


The association between health and happiness is well documented. Yet, research* has only fairly recently begun to document the great benefits of actively nurturing positive employee emotions in the workplace. With happy and healthy employees being the driving force behind every successful business, it makes sense to actively foster happiness in the workplace. Here are three ways in which positive emotions can enhance employee wellbeing:    

  • Positive emotions can be a valuable tool in mitigating the cumulative effects of stress.  
  • They are closely tied to enjoying better interpersonal relationships.  
  • There is evidence that positive emotions influence important work-related processes, like creativity and innovation.

These 8 positive emotions are common in a healthy and productive workplace: 

  1. Happiness
    Traditionally, happiness has been seen as a by-product of positive outcomes at work, rather than being a desirable pathway to business success. However, employee happiness can be nurtured. Some of the visible signs that employees are happy at work are a positive attitude, being willing to solve problems, accepting constructive criticism and striving to improve without being pressured to do so. Happy employees enjoy what they do and have high levels of job satisfaction. Happiness fosters a sense of belonging, boosts morale and strengthens relationships among team members. It also increases motivation, which leads to greater productivity. 
  2. Excitement
    Excitement at work can be described as a feeling of enthusiasm and mental stimulation in relation to work and one’s role. Being excited about work should not be underrated. Many people go about their workday with their eyes on the clock. Yet, having more energy than the average team member can be a competitive advantage. It excites employees to know what their career path looks like. Knowing there is a next step they are working toward can be a source of great encouragement. Being a part of a collaborative team can be one of the most exciting and rewarding employee experiences.
  3. Feeling valued
    Employees feel valued when their abilities and contributions are recognised. Valued employees are often more fulfilled and exhibit a positive sense of self-worth. The benefits of making employees feel valued are not limited to employee fulfilment but also provide benefits for employers. Valued employees work harder, are more committed and stay with the company longer. There are many ways to show employees how much you value them – from implementing recognition and reward programmes to listening and acting on employee feedback or making a simple gesture like saying thank you. 
  4. Camaraderie
    Camaraderie in the workplace is the result of a feeling of trust and friendship between colleagues. A keen sense of camaraderie is essential for teams to be successful. It is one of the main components in enabling teams to collaborate, communicate respectfully, share new ideas freely, disagree without animosity and continue to learn together. Team camaraderie can be consciously cultivated through team-building efforts, and it should be maintained to produce the qualities teams need to thrive.
  5. Engagement
    Engaged employees are “in it” for more than a paycheck. They care and derive enjoyment from their work and feel that their efforts make a difference to the success of the company. Employee engagement is demonstrated by the emotional connection people feel towards their work, their team and their employer. Finding meaning and purpose in a task or role is one of the most important elements in unlocking employee engagement. Employee engagement can be critical to a company’s success, given its link to job satisfaction and employee morale. Communication is a critical part of creating and maintaining employee engagement.
  6. Belonging
    A feeling of belonging at work can be understood as having the same feeling as a person does in a personal setting where they feel comfortable among friends – happy to spend time with them, share opinions, and feel accepted for who they are. Employees who feel that they belong can benefit by feeling less isolated and enjoying a better workplace experience while employers benefit from their employees’ quality of performance, greater productivity and increased profitability.
  7. Self-confidence
    Self-confidence is important in the workplace. It instils employees with optimism and courage – and the ability to put forward innovative ideas without feeling inhibited. Self-confidence is also what allows employees to discuss concerns with a manager or to provide positive or negative feedback. Employees with self-confidence tend to be able to cope with challenges better. Self-confidence also allows teams to be more creative and innovative, supporting a collaborative environment.
  8. A sense of pride
    Pride at work is about employees feeling good about their work and accomplishments. Pride also comes from having a sense of purpose and feeling of being a part of something bigger than oneself. When employees feel pride in what they do, they are more satisfied with their work. They are motivated by a sense of achievement that spurs them to continue working hard and always striving to do better. There are many ways a company can foster pride – from reward programmes to sharing examples of how employees’ work is impacting clients and the community to helping them grow and meet their goals to succeed in their career.   


Communication is the key to turning negative emotions into positive emotions 

Your employees are human beings, and humans are emotional. Acknowledging, and sometimes addressing, particular emotions is important in that it recognises each employee for who they are – and it helps to improve a company’s emotional culture.  

  • When faced with an employee’s pent-up emotions, ask them how they are feeling and if they are okay. Strive to understand what they are feeling and why.  
  • If an employee does want to talk, find a private space and listen.   
  • If they do not want to talk, respect their wishes and do not pressure them to share.  

Listening to your employees and taking any necessary action allows them to express how they are feeling and makes them feel cared for and heard. It also establishes you as a trusted resource who can be depended on. 


Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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