How emotions shape our work life


Jochen Menges, an expert in organisational behaviour, thinks that emotions matter profoundly for employee performance and behaviour. His studies bring nuance to our understanding of how employees wish to feel at work.

A bit of emotion, a bit of up and down – that’s what makes work meaningful
- Jochen Menges

It is important for people to feel happy rather than miserable in their work – research shows that contented employees deliver better results after all.

But some businesses regard happiness initiatives as a ‘salve’ that can be applied across an organisation to increase employee wellbeing, as Dr Jochen Menges from Cambridge Judge Business School explains.

“The very fact that many organisations now ‘invest in happiness’ means they understand that emotions matter. But what they typically do – offering benefits like chill-out zones, free food, yoga classes – is rather blunt and does not account for the complexity of people’s emotional life.”

Working with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Faas Foundation, Menges is diving deeper into our understanding of emotions at work. The ‘Emotion Revolution in the Workplace’ project has asked over 10,000 employees from a mix of occupations, levels, ages, genders and ethnicities in the USA not just how they feel, but also how they wish to feel at work.

The results show that while some report feeling happy, many say they are stressed, tired and frustrated at work. When it comes to how people wish to feel, the study finds that most want to be appreciated, excited and happy. “There is a considerable gap between how people feel at work and how they would like to feel,” Menges explains. “Now the challenge is to find ways to close that gap.”

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Image credit: The District

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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