We will all get old one day…..

In this blog post, I will be discussing one of the interesting and common phenomenon that one would observe only in Singapore. Before reading on, I would like everyone to observe 1) when you are having meals at food court, who are the ones that clean up the table and 2) when you are at Changi Airport, who are the ones that push and arrange the trolley. I am sure most of you would tell me the answer – the elderly. Yes, if we were to look around and observe, we would actually find that a lot of elderly in Singapore are still working even at their 70s or 80s.

Why? Aren’t they supposed to retire and enjoy their life at home?

There are actually few reasons why some elderly choose to continue working even after their retirement age.

Firstly, the sad truth is that due to the high living standards in Singapore, some elderly are unable to support their living with current amount of the money on hand. They have no choice but to work and earn a living. In most cases, this group of elderly is lowly-skilled and could only take on those tiring jobs such as cleaners. These jobs do not pay that well and the elderly have to keep working to sustain their living. I really feel very sad for them but I could barely do anything to help them at this point of time.

However, there is another group of elderly who chooses to work because they still want to be actively engaged in the society even after retirement. They are re-employed by the organization and work on a part-time basis to guide the younger colleagues in the team. They are able to support themselves even without working.  Also, they may engage in other activities such as volunteering. In this situation, working is just one of the activities that keeps them active in life and makes them feel they are still valued.

How? What can we do to integrate them back to society again?

I feel that the very first step as well as the most crucial step to integrate the elderly back to society again is to change our mindset – to change the way we view elderly. Now, as mentioned in this video (Click Here), Singaporeans tend to assume and stereotype elderly as unproductive and isolate them from the society. This is actually a very fatal assumption. Elderly are in fact very experienced in their work. One of the interesting example brought up in this video – Growing Old in Singapore (Part 4): Fears of Ageing, is the SIA flight attendants. Just because of the misconceptions, young flight attendants fail to learn from the more experienced staff. As a result, the service standard become poorer.

Moreover, we should also redesign the current infrastructures in the organizations to make it more elder-friendly. In this aspect, I think the Alexandra Hospital had done a fantastic job and other organizations should learn from them. Various program could be implemented to foster bonding between the elder workers and the young workers. Redesign the workplace to be more ergonomics help both elderly and young workers to prevent work-related injuries. There are many more initiatives an organization could implement to create a friendly environment for elderly to work in. Also, all these initiatives will not only benefit the elderly alone, but also normal adult workers as well.

Well……

Singapore is definitely marching towards ageing population given our low fertility rate. At this stage, besides to encourage young married couples to give birth to more babies, our society has to adapt to the ageing population in terms of infrastructure as well as other intangible aspects such as our attitude towards the elderly.

Lastly, I have found this series of talk show (Click Here). It talks about how is it like to grow old in Singapore. I have watched the entire series and they are really thought-provoking. With regards to the topic of ageing population at work, I find that the Part 4: Fears of Ageing is very relevant to the points I have mentioned above. Hope you will find the series interesting as well.

We will all get old one day. How we treat our pioneer generation today will be how our future generation treat us. Do you want to be treated this way?

How My Perspective Towards Work Changed

I’d like to briefly write about my motivation for going to work. Before my previous position in one of the biggest banks in the Nordic I thought myself as a pretty traditional finance student who only works for career goals, bigger challenges and of course, money. My job there wasn’t too challenging. In fact, sometimes I believed that even a trained monkey could do it. Nevertheless, I felt really satisfied after leaving the workplace every day and never ever had I any grudging feeling of knowing that I have to get up early to work the next day again.

The reason was the people there. Sure I still felt like I want challenges and something that I could leverage to develop myself even further, but because of the great culture at the work I truly enjoyed every day I spent with my colleagues.

Money can only get you so far in encouraging people to better performance. In my opinion in today’s competitive business environment if you really want the best of your employees it’s not enough to offer high salaries or other benefits if the people there do not enjoy each other’s company and actually have fun while working.

Putting some effort in generating a good workplace environment is a win-win for both the employees and employers. By creating a superior corporate culture you engage employees in mutual goal setting and they are more committed to achieving these goals. You get more out of your employees for a small effort. That’s what I noticed as well last year. I wanted that our team as a whole succeeded in all the internal competitions and other goals. We were the top-performing team in our department even though we weren’t exceptionally good in any particular way. We just enjoyed working there and I suppose that reflected in our performance.

This is an effect that has been noted in previous literature as well. Harvard Business Review raises a research that showed that performance increases on nearly all levels – productivity, creativity and engagement – when people work with a positive mindset.

The article also notes that it’s very complicated to measure happiness or define it objectively. One of the biggest pitfalls is that people believe that success precedes happiness. Examples of this kind of though process are “I’m happy after I reach my sales target” or “I am happy after I get promoted”. That is also why it seems hard to find the best way to keep everyone happy. Yet it’s hard to ignore the benefits and value of happy employees.

Company by itself is just a term used to refer to bunch of people working towards a common goal. If the people don’t succeed, the company won’t either. That’s why last year my perspective towards a working culture changed completely. I still want a challenging job where I can aim for the stars, but I want to do it in a great company. And with a company, I do not mean a firm but a bunch of great people.

Employee motivation

Ideas for employee motivation.

I write this blog entry as follow up to our Tuesday session on the 3rd of February because we were talking about the motivation of employees. This struck me personally as I was confronted with the question why I’m sitting in the classroom every lecture. Well, as I’m an exchange student, my main goal is full attendance, but the question of motivating people into better organisational behaviour got me thinking a little bit more. Picking up Audrey’s thought about the change in NUS’s shuttle busses by removing the seats in buses sounds like a good idea. What should be remembered though is to leave a seated area for people who can’t stand for a long time. What I also observed in the city are long lines of buses at a bus stop which wait for the first spot in line to release passengers and let new ones in, especially in areas with high amounts of offices. Why can’t the unload line be extended over the pickup and release area? By extending the unload line only, there are two benefits: The exiting passengers are able to leave the bus earlier and the usual waiting until everybody is out.  While keeping the entrance point at the same spot, the passengers entering the bus do not need to run around the bus stop and search for the bus, they just wait as usual. This motivates the bus drivers as the waiting in line in shortened and they are ready to go again faster. Furthermore, the company organising the transport will benefit greatly by implementing this procedure as it results in an increased customer satisfaction due to reduced waiting times and faster service. This may also have a positive effect on the drivers if they identify positively with their job: Greater job satisfaction though helping more people move around the city might increase the work morale of the people and strengthen the feeling of significance. This comes at virtually no additional cost for them or the company, it is just a small adjustment in the bus stop design. The space is occupied nevertheless because of the waiting buses, so I do not see any reasoning against this suggestion. Personally I perceive waiting times as the most annoying small detail in daily life. I see this every morning when I wait for the shuttle bus to get to the BIZ faculty building. The times might be displayed by the small screen at each station but first of all they are never accurate and second it would be much easier to have a precise schedule. In Germany, our buses are prescheduled for the whole day, e.g. 13:15, 13:30, 13:45 and so on. That way it is easier to estimate when to leave the house and minimize waiting time for the bus. This is an improvement which would motivate students, at least me and some of my friends, to come to school with a bit better attitude.

All in all I see a big potential in the schools and public transport. A precise schedule would benefit all parties, giving the drivers an estimate about their brakes and the passengers a time when to be at the bus stop without waiting for 20 minutes.

The value of TeamWork

The case “Duke-Nus Graduate medical school: Educational transplant” shows that working in team can be more challenging but also more efficient as a method of learning. By this text I will try to clarify the concept of working in team, the importance of it in business and some thoughts about the differences in the working ways between NUS and my school back home.

What working in team really means?

The business dictionary describes it as “The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal”. Teamwork implies cooperation between people who know how to value the strengths of each other while minimizing their weaknesses. Trusting the others, believing in their capacities as a team, exploring new aspects, learning how to work with different kind of personalities, focus on establish common goals instead of individual ones, provide constructive opinion and communicate efficiently are substantial points to improve the cohesion of the group. It can take a lot of time and an important level of commitment to form a good team. As we saw in class there’s a model called “The Tuckman Model” that describe the evolution of a successful team in four steps. The first one is “Forming”; the teammates try to know about each other’s by acting politely and testing the limits of tolerance. The second one is “Storming”; people begins to argue and conflicts arise. That’s the moment where they learn how to work with different opinions. The third one is “Norming”; people work efficiently by accepting the difference between them. The final step is “Performing”; that’s the hardest one to achieve because it requires trust between the teammates, and this is the stage where the creative confrontation and innovation-solving problem arise. Effectively, this is a theoretical development and there are different models to describe it as the “The Cog Model”.

Other applications in our lives?

I want to introduce you a video called “What Marriage Teaches About Teamwork” that can be link with the concept of teamwork. As you can see the expectations to be successful in a marriage are quite the same as for a team at work. We can also make a link between the Tuckman Model and the different steps with the beginning of a relationship.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFiLl-KNTtk

Why teamwork is so important?

In business, teamwork is substantial considering that your value in the market depends on your capacities to be innovative and your proficiency and that depends on the capacity of your team to excel. That concept is a crucial part to be successful in your career if we considerate that the people in the team need to work well together but also work at their best to surpass themselves. Teamwork increases the responsibilities of each other as you don’t want to disappoint your teammates for who you have a lot of respect. Also that increases your motivation as you can accomplish and celebrate the achievement together step by step. As for my own opinion, I think that this manner of working brings people at their best performance and forces you to be a better person. That makes you learn how to work with different types of personalities and how to be open to different culture and manners of thinking.

Application?

As an exchange student, I can tell the difference that I saw between the learning methods from my University in Montreal to NUS. In fact, our method is more theoretical; the class is about presenting theory from the book that is going to be use for the final exam. At NUS, the courses focus on an Asian perspective, team discussion and analysis, cases and I notice that manner of learning brings more motivation and enthusiasm from the students. I think the case of Duke-Nus shows the benefits of mixing the two different method of learning from USA and Singapore. Maybe when the efficiency of this program will be proven, others school around the world will review their methods. Do you think that the students would improve more with a learning method that emphases on teamwork and group discussion like at NUS?

By Stéfanie Bernard

References:

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/teamwork.html#ixzz3SGYXk3b9 <

http://itll.colorado.edu/images/uploads/courses_workshops/geen1400/textbook/ch06teamwork_and_working_in_teams.pdf

http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2013/01/23/why-and-where-is-teamwork-important/

Kanter’s three Ms – Mastery, Membership, Meaning

When we talked about motivation in session 4, I found Kanter’s keys to motivation quite interesting. She argues that the three Ms, Mastery, Membership and Meaning, are the key elements, which explain people’s motivation at work.

Mastery is the ability to let people develop skills with which they can actively shape the future instead of just sticking to old routines. It basically means to enable people to get out of their comfort zone and help them developing skills to think out of the box. Through this people will reach better, fast and more intelligent solutions. Membership is defined as the creation of community by honouring individuality. It encourages employees to have interests outside from work and to constantly offer opportunities for employees to exchange with one another. This will lead to a better organizational atmosphere within the company. Last but not least, meaning, as the word already implies, reinforces a larger purpose.

I personally think that the corporate culture of a company mostly contributes to how satisfied and consequently motivated employees are at their workplace. This mostly refers to the Kanter’s key “membership”. My brother started his new job last year in Germany. He works as a project engineer and consultant in a medium sized company. I remember that at the beginning of his study he was always aiming to work for a big consultancy such as McKinsey & Company. But during his study his preferences shifted from earning a lot of money and working long hours towards finding a meaning in his work and having the right work-life balance. The company he is now working for offers its employees a lot of incentives such as organizing weekly get-togethers, firm events, trips to the Oktoberfest, skiing trips and much more. He is still able to pursue his interests outside from work and therefore really enjoys working for that company.

From my point of view, your direct environment is an important source of motivation. It probably depends on your personality as well, but I always get the feeling, the more I’m around highly motivating and inspiring people, the more I feel motivated myself. Back home at my university I took the course economic psychology, which really elaborated on how people compare themselves to others, and that people only get their personal satisfaction from being relatively better than others. I believe that to some extent this is definitely true!

I recently watched the movie “The company men” directed by Johnny Wells, which deals with a global shipbuilding company, which due to the recession, has to fire many of its employees. The movie showed a lot about the company’s corporate culture and it was quite the opposite of what I described earlier with my brother. It seemed that the employees there were only motivated by their financial compensation. The company  failed to incorporate the three Ms as they did not let the employees develop deep skills, nor did they create strong bonds between the employees or gave them a deeper meaning for their work.

As already pointed out earlier, I believe that people have different sources of motivation. Therefore, it is not an easy task for a company to find the perfect mix to motivate people at work. Still, I’m convinced that Kanter’s three Ms are important values/keys for companies to integrate in their corporate culture.

By Elisa Senger
References: 
Article by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
https://hbr.org/2013/10/three-things-that-actually-motivate-employees/

Trailer “The Company Men”

The world is not small for everyone

The world is not small for everyone

 

In this blog entry I will discuss the problem many employees face in solving all kinds of job relate task because of limited connectedness. The focus is on a specific group of employees, namely young inexperienced ones and minorities.

 

I find this topic particular interesting, since we students will be these young and inexperienced employees one day. The discussion is mainly based on the paper “ The world is not small for everyone: inequity in searching for knowledge in organizations “ by Sigh et al. The notion of “small world” is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. This theory can also be reflected onto a corporation and its employees. This is an interesting theory in the field of organisational behaviour, as it explain to some extend why minorities and young employees deliver an inferior performance than their colleagues.

 

Why is it that some individuals are at disadvantage when it comes to searching for information or help in an organization? The paper mentions two main reasons, periphery status and homophily. First, the periphery status reflects the position of the employee in the corporate network. Being on the periphery is the opposite of being in the core. The people on the periphery are mostly minorities or young and inexperienced. They are poorly connected and don’t know anyone in the organization. Second, these employees engage in homophilous search. This means that they contact colleagues like themselves, already in the periphery of the network, with as little knowledge as themselves.

 

Why is it important to understand this problem? The periphery status and the effect of homophily will make it very hard for these employees to gather information in the organization. This will result negatively on their work performance. Moreover, it will affect their career progression and pay.

 

Sigh et al. found statistical evidence for all of the above mentioned claims about the peripheral status and homophily. They measured in their study how many connections it takes an employee with a problem to find another employee in the organization, who can provide the correct solution to that problem. The idea behind this is that, the shorter the chain, the better connected this individual is. The study showed that employees from a minority group or ones with short job tenure had significantly longer chains. Furthermore, they found that employees are more likely to select intermediaries with whom they share a characteristic, which supports the homopihly argument.

 

For a company to preform well it needs all of its employees to be highly productive. However, many employees face constraints by their peripheral status and the effect of homphily. It is important for managers to understand and tackle these problems. One solution could be to have a flat hierarchical structure. This would enable people of the periphery to connect more easily to ones on the core of the organisational structure.

 

Reference:

Singh, J., Hansen, M. & Podolny, J.M. (2010). The world is not small for everyone: inequity in searching for knowledge in organizations, Management Science, Vol.56, No.9, p.1415-1438.

Workplace Motivation

In this blog post I wonder where the working-life motivation comes from and how it relates to the most common of all motivators – money.

For every employee in every job their motivation is the key. It is something that drives people forward and enables them to perform well. Without motivation one’s pursuits are often characterized by a lack of enthusiasm resulting in a worse-than-optimal outcome. This is why companies and employers should incentivize their personnel. The thing is the chosen incentive is often not working too well.

I believe many employers use external motivators i.e. “carrots” that do not successfully translate to internal motivation for the employees. One of these unsuccessful external motivators is money. Money itself is very useful, it makes life easier and makes it possible for us to pursue the lifestyle we want. The problem is that if we have some, we do not need it as much as if we didn’t have any. In other words money has a diminishing utility. Having more of money increases one’s utility but at a diminishing rate. The studies also say that after a certain threshold money does not seem to increase our happiness. In some cases money can even be harmful.

It was pointed out by Dan Pink that using money as a motivator in simple tasks increases one’s efficiency, but if used in more complex activities the results actually seem to get worse. The reason being that having money as the “goal” narrows one’s focus, in which case the complexity of the problem cannot be adequately addressed. Thus if we also assume that the complex jobs get paid more, and the bonuses and perks are paid in monetary terms, we got a situation where extra-money brings only slightly utility, narrow’s your focus and does not work well as a motivator.

Personally I have found that my motivation mainly comes from the team-spirit, competitiveness and sense of belonging in the working place. I need to be able to evaluate my performance with those of my peers to see how I am doing. I have to be able to trust those I work with and I need to feel like belonging to the “team” which ultimately has the same goal. Additionally if the tasks are more demanding and diverse my motivation-level tends to be higher. I think the last point is just to avoid getting bored at the job which eventually demotivates you by a great deal.

I think the optimal solution to make people motivated would be something like the following. Pay people well enough to make the job appealing, but do not use the money as the main reward. Instead, focus on providing a dynamic, competitive but still a strongly team-spirited workplace where one does not get bored and one feels like he is part of something greater.

By Lauri Henrik Mustonen

 

http://time.com/3265251/money-and-happiness/

Money and motivation

In this blog, I want to reflect about what money is and how it affect people and organizations.

Money is both everything and nothing. Money is nothing more than a piece of paper or a digital number and the value in itself is zero. What makes it valuable is that people believe that money has a value. The minute people no longer believe in a currency, the value drops. Money need trust like a flower need water.

Money has a different meaning for various people. For some people money is only a tool to survive. You need it to buy food, water and a roof above your head. For others money is a lot more than that. People who already have more money than they can spend still chase more money. Why is that? It is about what money represents. Money is a symbol. It can symbolize success and maybe even happiness. People buy fancy cars like Porsche and watches like Rolex to show people their superiority. Money is power.

Money is a powerful tool, because it represents many things and have different meaning for various people. Almost everyone want more money, even though a lot of people will not admit it. This is why many organizations use money as a tool to incentivize workers to be more effective. It is almost a general understanding in the society that if you want something done, you incentivize with money. The question is, does it work?

In the presentation, “The puzzle of motivation”, Dan Pink brings up a very interesting theory or fact as he calls it. He claims that incentivizing people with money only works for easy tasks where there is a clear set of rules and a clear destination to go. When you have to think and you need creativity, this incentivizing actually has a negative impact. Various experiments show that this is indeed true, like “the candle problem” and different tasks given to MIT-students. Money as an incentive dulls thinking and blocks creativity.

Personally, I think this theory is very interesting and I believe it is true in many cases. Because money is as powerful as it is, it makes people too stressed and unable to think creatively and outside the box, and almost every organization need creative thinking in the 21th century. As Dan Pink says in his presentation, there is a mismatch between what science knows and what businesses does. Why is this? Maybe money has become such a big part of our society that we are unable to adapt. That it has become a part of human nature to use money as an incentive to get things done.

I have read the book Freakonomics that have many interesting facts about behavioral economics that really makes you think. One interesting case that I read about in the book was about kindergartens in Israel. A big problem was parents who were late to pick up their kids. The employees had to stay after the kindergarten had closed because of late parents. To solve this problem, the kindergarten introduced a fine for every minute a parent was late to pick up their kids. What happened? The parents were even more late to pick up their children! This shows that money, as an incentive, is not always the solution. The fine reduced the moral issue of being late. We can see the same result when you get money by giving blood instead of giving it free. When you are paid, less people give blood because it is no longer such a good deed.

I believe that it is important to be aware of what affect money has on people and organizations. To measure if money as a reward reduces or strengthens effectiveness in different situations and then adapt to the results. Incentivizing with money where it works, and find other solutions where it does not work. If businesses and the society in general is able to do that, I agree with Dan Pink. I think the world can become a better place and that we can strengthen the economy. More awareness around this topic is necessary to achieve that goal.

Written by Mathias Aleksander Berntsen

Interesting links

http://freakonomics.com/

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/books/chapters/0515-1st-levitt.html?_r=0

Multimedia MNO3301: The puzzle of motivation

Matured Workers in Singapore

After the Alexandra Hospital case discussion, I felt that most companies would have some capacity to hire matured workers, with the defining factors being the companies’ attitude and perception towards the matured workers. However, after experiencing two Human Resource Internships, I feel that there are more issues to consider.

1. More re-employment for jobs which younger generations shuns

As I glance through the companies being featured for embracing the matured workforce (Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment, 2010), I realised that half are in the government sector whereby they are setting an example for the public sector to follow suit. While the other half made up of private companies in the transport, fast food and hotel industry, which requires low skilled labour, especially so with the tightening on foreign labour by the government in 2010 (Yahya, 2013). Well-educated Singaporeans are less willing to drive buses, clean tables and make the beds.

I personally experienced it, as I am a diploma graduate in Hospitality and Tourism Management; most of my classmates, like me, who are trained to work in hotels and restaurants, ended up furthering their studies in another area. With the younger generations being unwilling to do the job, these companies are forced to turn to foreign labour and matured workers. And that, I have a friend whose mother was not educated, at the age of 56 with back issues, she was delighted to be given the chance to do housekeeping at The Amara Hotel and it was a win-win situation for both parties. She has been re-employed several times by the hotel due to her hardworking attitude. However, if all of my classmates, who are trained in this field, applied for the job, would she be even given the opportunity?

2. Unionised companies face more pressure in re-employment

During my internship at PSA Marine, I managed to sit in for several union meetings and through that, I felt that unions does have great influence on the management, provided that the management sees the importance of how maintaining positive industrial relations affects job satisfaction and employee’s commitment. PSA Marine offers re-employment to matured employees, with a pre-requisite of the doctor’s approval during annual medical check-ups. If they were to fail, the union will come in to negotiate for a job redesign that requires less physical work and to maintain the harmonious relations, unionised companies have to handle every single case with care and all these negotiation requires time and effort.

However, it led me thinking as to how many jobs can the HR redesign? With the increase in matured workers, the demand for such jobs will far exceed the supply and there will be a point whereby companies will not be able to provided these matured workers suitable jobs. It is extremely critical when these matured workers possess either little skills or physical skills, which cannot be translated to the office environment. Therefore, before it reaches that juncture, companies could offer pre-retirement counselling or planning every five years once their employees reach 50 and motivate them to pick up new skills.

 3. Blue-collar vs. White-collar matured workers

There are matured workers in both white and blue-collar jobs. Nonetheless, I feel that white-collar workers are more fortunate because they are working in an environment that age does not necessarily hinder them, but instead, the profound knowledge they have gathered over the years gives them an advantage in being able to coach the younger generations. I know of many senior managers at PSA Marine and senior partners at Deloitte who are neither ready to retire, nor is the company willing to let them go.

However, it is somewhat opposite for the blue-collar workers, as most of their jobs require manual labour; if there are many younger and stronger individuals interested in their jobs, these matured workers, whose age affects their physical capabilities, could be replaceable. Therefore, they should either be equipped with different skillsets or be an expert in their current skill that they are needed by the company to provide training to new employees. However, sometimes it boils down to an individual’s personality and attitude to keep his job. I saw a video about a 102-year-old man still working at Wal-Mart because he wants to stay active and customers respect him for that.

4. Nudges for hiring matured workers & re-employment

With the aging population, there are plenty of societal pressures. The government and unions provides funding and award recognition to encourage re-employment. Media commercials and advertisements that features matured workers knowing their employment rights, the benefits of hiring them, as well as posters featuring their contributions (Ministry of Manpower, 2015). Our families and relatives who are matured and unemployed could be an unintentional nudge for us to give matured individuals a chance at work.

Videos:

1.  Wal-Mart’s 102-year-old employee:

2. Work-right video featuring matured workers knowing their rights:

3. Benefits of hiring older workers:

Media Poster:

Untitled

Works Cited:

  1. Ministry of Manpower. (2015, January 14). WorkRight. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from Ministry of Manpower: http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/employment-rights-conditions/workright/Pages/default.aspx
  1. Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment. (2010). Leading Practices for Managing Mature Employees. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment:http://www.tafep.sg/sites/default/files/Publication%20-%20Leading%20Practices%20for%20Managing%20Mature%20Employees_0.pdf
  1. Yahya, Y. (2013, February 28). Foreign Labour Curbs Raise Concerns. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from STJOBS: http://www.stjobs.sg/career-resources/hr-updates/foreign-labour-curbs-raise-concerns/a/107807

 

 

Emotional dissonance at work and how to prevent it

While we so far tried to answer the questions of who goes to work and why people go to work, the discussion about emotions at work in week 3 let me reflect most. We found out that there appear to be six basic emotions that every human all over the work is able to identify, including anger, fear, sadness, happiness, disgust and surprise. Additionally we tried to differentiate between emotion, mood and affect. Although current academic literature may suggest diverse definitions of these terms, for me, the best differentiation we also identified during class discussion was by their length. While mood and emotions are both states of feelings, mood is rather short-lived and emotion is longer-lived. Having a bad day is normal and just shows that a person is not in a good mood. Being constantly sad, stressed or depressive is however more than just a short-lived feeling and can rather be identified as a general emotion and state of mind. While our moods might differ on an hourly basis and depend heavily on situations, in my opinion emotions are deeper anchored in a person and often hard to control or even explain. In contrast to both, affect is only the experience of feeling an emotion, thus it is shortest in duration.

When talking about emotions at work, we integrated all three concepts of feelings instead of solely focusing on long-lived emotions as emotions, moods and affects may equally influence our work performance. In many working environments, emotional labor is of huge importance. Employees are expected to express specific organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions. The most salient examples for me are bank tellers in shops or waiters in restaurants and cafes. No matter whether they have a bad day or not, whether they are tired, stressed, sad or worried, they are expected to display positive emotions and act friendly. These expectations nowadays do not only come by their superiors, but primarily by customers. Thus, whenever employees start to act in order to display the appropriate attitude or emotions to the customer while simultaneously feeling a different emotion themselves, we encounter emotional dissonance.

The critical topic of emotional dissonance, its consequences and how to prevent them stroke me personally, because I worked in a café myself during high school and remember how stressful it can be on a busy Sunday to continuously act friendly and apologize for potential waiting times, while customers are grumpy, unfriendly or even offensive. Especially on days where I had a bad day myself, the constant acting to display the appropriate positive emotions was really challenging and often frustrating.

Fortunately, as the café I worked in was rather small, no employee had one specific task and we had to work together to prepare the food and drinks, sell and serve the products as well as to do the dishes. Therefore, whenever one of us was completely stressed or had an unlucky day with several unfriendly customers, we managed to divide tasks in a way, that he or she could do the dishes or prepare food and drinks in the back office for a while instead of working in direct customer contact. This enabled us to relieve every now and then from the stress created by constant emotional dissonance.

It is just human and natural to have emotions and moods and ignoring them is not an option in the long run. Organizations with intense interpersonal transactions should therefore enable their employees to overcome the negative long-term consequences of regular emotional dissonance by offering temporary back office tasks and making each employees work shift more diversified. As an increased task variety is likely to enhance job satisfaction in general, this change might even create a virtuous cycle, leading to friendlier and happier employees directly engaged with the customers and less emotional dissonance overall.