Emotional Contagion in the Workplace – Part II

Sneeze vector

Sneeze vector (Photo credit: 729:512)

In Emotional Contagion in the Workplace – Part I, I wrote about the existence of patterns that can affect productivity in ways that can’t be accurately forecast, and that emotional contagion is one of these patterns. In research published in 2010, researchers from Harvard formally demonstrated that emotions can be thought of as infectious diseases spreading across social networks, including at work.  The study looked at being “content” and “discontent” as two viruses, and found that these emotions could be “caught” from others in the social network. Continue reading

Advertisements

Emotional Contagion in the Workplace – Part I

Sneeze vector

Sneeze vector (Photo credit: 729:512)

Much of the work we do in Strategic Workforce Planning involves taking both internal and external trends, and determining how they might play out for your organisation.  Once you’ve done that, you can determine tactics to harness or address these trends to prepare for the best possible future workforce.

Sometimes, there are clear trends happening inside the organisation that are unsustainable – high performers turning over, key skills being lost, etc.  Identifying those trends through workforce analytics lets you understand the nature and extent of the problem, and determine strategies for addressing them.  By targeting these initiatives to where you need them most, you can ensure that your HR and Talent Management strategies are effective and efficient.

On the other side of the coin, workforce analytics and environment scanning help you to recognise opportunities and areas that the organisation is doing well in, so that you can capitalise on those.  People who are trained in a particular skillset are 20% more productive?  There’s your ROI for the training initiative right there.

One of the key things to recognise in any kind of workforce futuring is that it’s not just about headcount – you need to take into account the skillset and the productivity of the workforce too… and some trends can effect productivity in ways that just can’t be predicted.  Key among these is engagement.  The good news is that engagement (like many emotions in the workplace) is contagious.  The bad news is that disengagement is twice as contagious.  Further, trends that are subject to “contagion” have multiplier effects that can’t be accurately forecast. In a coming post, I’ll be talking about the research that supports emotional contagion in the workplace, the implications of this, and what you can do about it.  Stay tuned.