A CASE FOR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCEIN WORKPLACE WELLNESS ANNETTE PRINS
Introduction • The changing world of work necessitates new approaches to managing organisations and employees together with a stronger focus on employee wellbeing. EI is one such an approach. • Since employees represent many organisations’ only true competitive advantage, leaders need to manage and motivate their workforce to retain or enhance the organisation’s market share. • The changing world of work includes an increasingly diverse workforce with needs, aspirations, and attitudes different from those of their managers, necessitating creativity and ingenuity from leaders.
Meta-theoretical perspective: Positive psychology • The current study niches in the emerging paradigm of positive psychology (Seligman, 1998c, 1999; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) as it finds application in both general and industrial psychology.
Psychology • General Psychology Human behaviour and experience has traditionally been dealt with from a pathogenic meta-perspective. This has led to “an obsessive proclivity for ‘deficit detecting’ to the exclusion of acknowledging strengths and resources” (Barnard, 1994, p.136). • Organisational psychologyLuthans (2002) proposes that organisational psychology is still more concerned with what is wrongin organisations, teams, leaders and employees, than with what was right. According to him the field needs a “proactive, positive approach emphasising strengths, rather than … to fix weaknesses” (p.695).
The Cognitive Paradigm • Simultaneous with the traditional paradigm, the cognitive approach was an equally influential line of thinking influencing the study of human behaviour. • Whyte’s (1956) classic book The Organization Man depicted effective business people as logical, rational and reasoned decision makers. • Emotions were seen as subtracting from objectivity and were therefore an unwanted influence, to be controlled since it reflected weakness and instability in the organisation man. • This value system was long incubated by organisations and likewise adopted by researchers.
The emergence of emotions as an explanatory model for work behaviour • Lewis (1993), in the seminal work Handbook of Emotions (Lewis & Haviland, 1993) argues that, in order to understand human behaviour, emotions need to be understood. • Muchinsky (2000) argues emotions are at the very core of human experience • Industrial Organisational (I/O) psychology should take thelead in explaining the role of emotions at work, since we spend most of our time engaged in working rather than in other activities • Emotions in the workplace are real, and individuals both feel and think. • After a decade of recognising the complexity of cognitive processes, the next decade may witness the recognition of emotional processes in personnel selection and job performance.
Affect in the workplace The organisation by which people are employed offers opportunities for experiencing numerous emotions affecting employees’ thoughts, feelings and actions • both in the workplace and when they are away from it - Time pressures and - Pressures to be successful Link with work related stress and currently cause a huge problem with modern man ‘on the run’ According to Muchinsky (2000) behaviour scientists now have to acknowledge emotions as a “legitimate domain of scientific inquiry” (p.803).
Explanatory models applied in conceptualising the current research • Affective Events Theory (AET) (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996) • AET claims that workplace conditions determine discrete affective events that lead to affective responses (moods and emotions) in workers. • Such moods and emotions are considered mechanisms mediating stable features of the work environment (such as job design) and influence job attitudes and behaviour. • A judgement-driven behaviour such as a decision to quit a job may, for example, flow from the aggregate of affective experiences and contribute to attitudes such as job dissatisfaction.
The Broaden-and-Build Theory (Fredrickson, 1998; 2001) Complements the Affective Events Theory • Fredrickson carefully studied the role of positive and negative emotions and the gains that result when positive affect supersedes negative affect, including: • The building of “a variety of enduring personal resources” (Fredrickson, 2000, p.239). • These include: • enhanced physical, intellectual, social and psychological resources. • A broadening - of the thought-action repertoires; - the scope of attention; - cognition and action • Positive emotions may furthermore serve to undo the effects of negative emotions; - protect health, and • fuel emotional resilience, all of which contribute to freeing up employee energy that may be channelled into work and other activities, thereby enhancing work engagement.
Impetus for the current research Burke, Brief, George, Roberson, and Webster (1989 conclude that the influence of the work context on affective experience is largely unexplored. Fisher (2000) agrees that there are relatively fewstudies regarding emotions experienced at work, while Weiss and Cropanzano (1996) indicate that meaningfully distinct affective experiences at work have, in general, beenignored by researchers. Potential dysfunctions rather than functions of everyday emotions have been more salient to both managers and researchers (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1995). These researchers argue that this pejorative view of emotion has blindedmany scholars and practitioners to the valueof emotions. For example, business schools and organisations would rather emphasise technical than social skills.
Purpose and aim of the research One purpose of the research was to investigate whether employee emotional intelligence is • related to psychological climate, • affective experiences, and • indices of work-related well-being • Secondly, the researcher was interested in the process by which the proposed effect takes place • Lastly, the measuring instruments were revalidated to ascertain their applicability in the particular South African population.
Research DESIGN A cross sectional correlational design was used. PROCEDURES AND MEASURES • The study was conducted among the employees of six private hospitals in South Africa who granted permission in this regard. • Both rural and urban areas were included • A total of 265 questionnaires were distributed • 229 Members participated in the study constituting an overall response rate of 86% • After statistical control for missing data, 198 participants remained in the study. • Senior managers, nursing sisters in management positions, senior sisters, and group leaders of work teams were included together with subordinates
Measuring instruments • A biographical questionnaire was compiled to obtain information on gender, language, age, hospital section, type of career, management level, years of service with current employer, service period under current manager and educational level of respondent. • The Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test (SUEIT self-report) by Palmer and Stough (2001), was applied to evaluate employees’ levels of emotional intelligence. • The self-report Psychological Climate Inventory(Brown & Leigh, 1996), was used to measure the first-order factors of psychological safety and psychological meaningfulness, with psychological climate as the second-order factor. • The self-report Job Affect Scale(JAS) by Brief, Burke, George, Robbinson and Webster (1988), was used to measure positive and negative job affect.
Measuring instruments • The self-report Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (Schaufeli et al., 2002), was used to measure employees’ levels of work engagement, reflecting vigour, dedication and absorption. • The self-report Maslach Burnout Inventory for workers in the human services by Maslach and Jackson (1986), was used to measure emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and lack of personal accomplishment. • With regard to contemplated quitting, a self-developed Guttman scale in accordance with that suggested by Cohen (1993), was used. • A self-compiled Health Questionnaire was constructed to probe the general physical and mental health of the respondent.
Statistical analysis • A priori models, depicting tentative causal relationships between emotionally intelligent employees, their perceived psychological (work) climate, job affect, work engagement, health, burnout and contemplated quitting, were investigated. • Descriptive statistics, Product-moment correlations, multiple regressions, and structural equations modelling (SEM) were applied to analyse the data. SEM was used to test the goodness-of-fit indexes of the hypothesised model on the data. The subscales of the questionnaires served as manifest variables.
Emotional intelligence (EI) Main Construct • Paradigmatic shift • Researchers currently look for characteristics: • predictive of successful living • supportive of successful coping at work Discussions of EI proliferate and the EI model seems to be emerging as an influential framework in (organisational) psychology (Goleman, 2001) • EI much debated topic • Many claims made on behalf of the EI construct • The current research aimed to put some of the claims to the test
Emotional intelligence (EI) The internal environment of an organisation includes a social setting that requires continued and substantial interpersonal interaction among the employees and it is here that emotions form a core ingredient. EI literature propagates that an individual’s ability to accurately perceive his/her emotions, to effectively control and regulate such emotions and interact effectively with others, will, to a large extent, influence the individual’s workplace effectiveness (Bosman, 2003). EI competencies influence organisational effectiveness in areas such as employee recruitment and retention, development of talent, employee commitment, morale, and health (Bar-On, 1997).
EI Definitions • Bar-On (1997) • “an array of non-cognitive capabilities, competencies, skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures” • EI an NB predictor of success in life - directly influences general psychological well-being and health
EI Definitions • Goleman (2001): “learned capability based on EI that results in outstanding performance at work” • Mayer, Salovey, Caruso (2000) • argue EI represents a set of mental abilities, including the ability to: • Perceive emotions • Access and generate emotions to assist thought • Understand and reason about emotion, • Reflectively regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth
EI Models / Definitions • Ability Mixed Personality
Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test (SUEIT) Palmer and Stough (2001) In order to determine the most definitive common elements constituting the EI construct, Palmer et al. (2003) performed a large factor analytic study including the six more prominent measures of emotional intelligence at the time. • These include the MSCEIT; Mayer et al. (1999); the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory (Bar-On, 1997); the Trait Meta Mood Scale (Salovey et al., 1995); the twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale-11 (TAS-30; Bagby, Taylor & Parker, 1994); the Schutte et al. (1998) scale; as well as the scale developed by Tett et al. (1997). • This battery was highly representative of and covered all the measures of emotional intelligence available at the time. A lengthy process of statistical analyses (cf. Gardner and Stough, 2002)
The following factors were derived • Emotional Recognition and Expression (in oneself), that is, the ability to recognise one’s emotions and the ability to express those emotions appropriately to others; • Understanding Emotions External, that is, the ability to perceive and understand the emotions of others and those inherent in the workplace environments (e.g., staff meetings, boardrooms etc.); • Emotions Direct Cognition, that is, the extent to which emotions and emotional information are incorporated into reasoning and decision making; • Emotional Management, that is, the ability to manage both positive and negative moods within oneself and • Emotional Control, that is the ability to effectively control strong, emotional states experienced at work such as anger, stress, anxiety, and frustration. • Palmer et al. (2003, p.92)
Mediators of employee well-being at work Psychological climate (PC) • PC reflects how organisational environments are perceived and interpreted by its employees (James, James, & Ashe, 1990). • It is argued that a salubrious work climate should be promoted to facilitate the achievement of job satisfaction and organisational goals whilst simultaneously promoting wellness.
DIMENSIONS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL CLIMATE • PCg factor represents the employee’s total interpretation of “the degree to which the environment is personally beneficial versus personally detrimental to one’s sense of well-being”. • A. Psychological Safety • Supportive management • Clarity • Self-expression • B. Psychological Meaningfulness • Perceived meaningfulness of contribution • Recognition • Challenge
JOB AFFECTPositive and Negative affectThe two-factor structure of affect by Watson & Telegen, 1985,p.221
Indices of wellbeing These indices include • Positive indices: - work engagement - health • Negative indices: - burnout - contemplated quitting.
Positive indicators of well-being • WORK ENGAGEMENT • Schaufeli et al. (2002) define engagement as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind characterised by vigour, dedication, and absorption. • Dimensions of work engagement • Vigour, characterised by high levels of energy and mental resilience whilst working; the willingness to invest effort in the work; not fatiguing easily, and persisting even in the face of difficulties. • Dedication, characterised by finding one’s work significant; feeling enthusiastic and proud about one’s job, and by experiencing both challenge and inspiration in the work. • Absorption, characterised by being happily and totally immersed in one’s work whilst finding it difficult to detach oneself from it. Time passes quickly and one becomes oblivious of one’s surroundings.
Engagement vs BurnoutA taxonomy of well-being at work (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2001)
POSITIVE INDICATORS OF WELL-BEING Health Indicators The World Health Organisation (WHO) views health not merely as the absence of disease but as physical, mental, and social well-being (Van Niekerk, 2005). Physical healthAn individual’s body, experiencing chronic stress (for example when under constant deadline pressure), reacts with physical changes as if under acute stress According to (Pelletier, 1996). “Catecholamines trigger a cascade of physiological changes that marshal the body to readiness: Heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension all rise sharply; the stomach and intestines become less active; and the blood level of glucose or blood sugar, rises for quick energy” (p.23). Mental Health A healthy mind includes but is not limited to a “ state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences (in Keyes & Lopez, 2002, p.55).
NEGATIVE INDICATORS OF WELL-BEING AT WORK • Burnout • According to Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter (2001, p. 397): “Burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy”.Burnout has become more widespread and is reaching epidemic proportions among North American workers (and globally) (Maslach & Leiter, 1997). • People values have become increasingly subordinate to economic ones. Economic forces have become the primary driving force, with other values being regarded as subsidiary. • Profits are favoured over the welfare of people in the reengineering and downsising of organisations in a quest to increase profits (‘doing more with less’) so that capable employees, rather than being rewarded for hard work, are set adrift (Turner et al., 2002). Increased profit, pursued at the cost of subordinates’ jobs, is eroding the concept of job security.
Dimensions of burnout • Emotional exhaustion - the draining of emotional resources resulting from demanding interpersonal contacts with others. Employees’ emotional resources are depleted and they no longer feel they can give of themselves at a psychological level. Employees feel overextended, both emotionally and physically. They struggle to unwind and recover. They are as tired when getting up as when they had gone to bed. They lack the energy to face another day. • Depersonalisation/ cynicism - a negative, callous, and cynical attitude and feeling towards the recipients of the burnt out individual’s care or services. The person develops a dehumanised perception of others and may even feel that his/her clients/patients deserve their troubles. According to Wills (1978), the described negative attitude towards clients in human service workers is well documented. Burnt out individuals take on a cold, distant attitude to their work and people involved, attempting to minimize their job involvement, and give up their ideals. They thus try to protect themselves from further exhaustion and disillusionment. • Lack of personal accomplishment - the tendency to evaluate one’s work with clients/patients negatively. Workers feel unhappy about themselves and are dissatisfied with their work accomplishments They experience a growing sense of inadequacy. All new projects seem overwhelming. They lose confidence in the belief that they can make a difference.
CONTEMPLATED QUITTING • Mood and turnover intentions • It is argued that the affective context at work is instrumental in turnover. • According to George (1989) mood provides the affective context for thought processes and behaviours, and Clark and Isen (1982, p. 76) state that “feelings have an important effect on cognition and behaviour”. • Mood at work may best be conceptualised as determined by both situational factors and personality (Lewin, 1951). Individuals with higher levels of positive affectivity, are inclined to experience a sense of well-being and are more often pleasurably and effectively engaged at work (Tellegen, 1982). • George (1989) suggests that situational factors may exert a greater influence on positive affect whilst negative effect seems more mediated by internal factors.
Conclusion • Emotions previously seen as illegitimate area of research: • - Viewed through cognitive lens • - According to so-called norms of rationality • Recent trends in neuroscience provide much support for the role of emotion in reasoning. • EI exciting and developing research area in relation to organisational behaviour • Measure of debate surrounding EI reflects healthy process in scientific research • Neural plasticity allows for lifelong learning and adaptation, also in affective realm