5 Possible Reasons why your people feel irritated and what to do about it


Surprisingly, most leaders have no real idea of how their people feel. According to a study by Total Jobs, as many as 1 in 3 employees in the UK hide their true feelings at work, and a staggering 59% of UK workers have ‘felt emotions at work that they didn’t feel that they could freely express’. 

In a separate study it was found that 30% of line managers consider emotional expression at work to be a sign of weakness with 51% believing emotions should be suppressed in a professional environment. 

“Workplaces are environments of social expectations,” says Dr Terri Simpkin of University of Nottingham. “There are ‘display rules’ associated with when, where and how much emotion can be shared and by whom. This is one reason why people will suppress their emotions in the workplace: they fear being judged.”

It’s no wonder employees keep their feelings hidden and why managers deal with issues like high staff turnover, underperformance and disengagement. Manager are shooting themselves in the foot so to speak. If emotional expression was encouraged they’d not only have powerful data to work with when making decisions, but avoid a multitude of people problems and achieve much greater results. 

Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources Management Associate Professor at University of Nottingham Terri Simpkin, says:

 “Emotional intelligence is a key professional capability, particularly for leaders and managers. Our emotions are what make us human. They give us our capacity for collaboration, innovation, creativity and connection. Traditional attitudes which taught us to leave our emotions at the door should be long gone. 

It is this human-ness within organisations that will set them apart as we move further into the fourth industrial age. As workplaces are becoming more and more digital, the ability to lead with an understanding of how to integrate emotionally aware people into them will be key to success.” 

They’re sitting with uncomfortable feelings and feel trapped in their experience

The act of suppressing emotions in professional settings has, unfortunately, been somewhat engrained into employees (and line managers too) and, therefore, it makes it difficult to get employees to openly express the way they feel without some sort of ‘protection’ or anonymity. In our experience, the greatest step towards a more inclusive, aware and highly-functional workplace is conducting pulse surveys that provide employees with the opportunity to express how they feel anonymously, free from the fear of being judged or treated differently. Employees sitting with uncomfortable emotions for long periods of time are 100% vulnerable to other opportunities, and more importantly, are highly likely to underperform and show signs of disengagement. 

They feel their line managers don’t care for their emotional wellbeing

Especially in times like these, employees are hyper aware of how their organisation’s value emotional and mental wellbeing. Life and work pressure has increased over the last few years, not only due to the pandemic and businesses fighting for survival, but also because of increased competition and globalisation. 46% of employees said their job had become more stressful in the last two years. In a research study by Benenden Health, 42% of employers have experienced an employee leaving their organisation because they felt their mental wellbeing was not being cared for, and more than half (57%) of employees said that they’d join another organisation if it had a supportive mental wellbeing policy. Wellbeing policies play a big part in employees’ decision making. Again, for companies who can demonstrate the way in which they seek to understand and care for their people are the companies that are going to retain and attract talent.

They’re unsure of their growth opportunities within the organisation

It’s often the most ambitious and strongest talent that think of their growth opportunities, and it’s this type of talent that managers shouldn’t lose! To avoid employees questioning their growth opportunities, managers need to find out how their people are thinking and feeling about their career development within the organisation so that they have the opportunity to validate their top talent should they feel unsure. This is the way to combat high staff turnover, retain top talent and remain competitive. Pulse surveys are fantastic for asking such questions and receiving honest feedback that managers can take action on.

They feel undervalued and unsure how to deal with it 

Feeling undervalued is a big reason why employees either leave or become disengaged – and in fact, cost you more. An employee that feels they’re giving more than they’re receiving whether it be in terms of remuneration vs workload or feeling unacknowledged for the value they bring to their team, is an employee that’s going to feel nothing to pull back, or worse, totally check out. This is where communication is so important. Employees need a place to go to speak up and be heard so that feelings can be changed. Managers need to establish a communication channel between staff and management!

They have a strained relationship with their line manager 

Employees who feel negatively towards their line manager for whatever reason is not going to address it openly with management. There’s a hierarchical imbalance and therefore fear associated with speaking up about such a feeling. If, however, employees can voice this anonymously they’ll not only feel relieved to get this off their chest but will feel hopeful that a change can be made. More importantly, it’s imperative for top management to know if there are any issues with line managers – if not for the sake of employee wellbeing then for the sake of the business.

Did you know Inpulse can help you uncover how your people feel and why with emotional analytics

Here’s a scenario devoid of emotional analytics data:

Your survey closes, the data is gathered and results show that Manager X’s team engagement score is 53.146. (I’m not sure about you, but I’d be totally confused by this number. What does this mean?! Are employees engaged or not? What do they need? What decisions should I make?)

Here’s the same scenario inclusive of emotional analytics data:

Your survey closes, the data is analysed and results show that 53% of Manager X’s team feel irritated, and the reasons why are X, Y, Z. Manager X should take these actions to protect engagement…

Now Manager X has actionable data: He/she knows the exact reasons why the team aren’t performing optimally and what can be done to change it. Manager X can make decisions informatively and achieve results quickly, saving time and cost and error. 

Through emotional analytics Inpulse are able to give you much more actionable data for you and your managers.

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