A Griffith researcher’s book helps to unpack how our emotions impact ourselves and others at work.

Managing emotions at work can be challenging, especially as our work relationships are becoming more intertwined with our personal lives. At the same time, workplace change is constant and generates emotion at work.

As we face restructures, mergers and financial constraints, we are also working in organisations where the culture is more diverse than ever with individuals from varying backgrounds and beliefs, working long hours together.  All of these factors generate emotions in employees.

Although a significant amount of literature exists on emotion, in his (co-authored) book, Social Functions of Emotion and Talking About Emotion at Work, Professor Peter Jordan uniquely examines theories of emotion in organizations and compares them to the ways in which both individuals and groups talk about emotion at work.

Drawing on psychological and sociological research, this book provides ground-breaking insights for understanding how emotions are used in the workplace. For instance, the emotions “anger” and “boredom” should not always be negatively conceptualised, as anger functions to redress injustice and promote necessary social change, and boredom provides opportunity to explore more rewarding opportunities.

The book also opens debate around how social functions of our talking about emotions can be mutually reinforcing.  One chapter outlines the complicated evolution of “happiness” at work, the current emphasis on employee wellbeing, and how happiness dominates efforts behind employee engagement and satisfaction.

‘Our aim was to gather contributions from leading emotion researchers and focus on ten different emotions, ranging from awe to shame’ says Professor Jordan, Deputy Director of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing.

‘We explored how each emotion functions, and how we talk about them at work.  We hope this book provides fresh theoretical and practical insights into how our discussions of workplace emotion can affect employees and how emotional events are perceived at work,” Professor Jordan explains.

The book has received tremendous support in the workplace wellbeing field of research. Howard M. Weiss of Georgia Institute of Technology, USA commented, ‘This is a very important book that helps fill a serious gap in the Organisational Behaviour/ Organizational Psychology literature on emotions. The editors have assembled a stellar collection of contributors and each and every chapter is worth studying.’

With its novel approach, this book is an invaluable tool for academics researching emotion, as well as research students working in the social sciences seeking reference material on emotion. Managers working in the HR sector have also found this book to be a practical resource in understanding the various emotions felt at work to help staff build emotional resilience.

Other WOW members Ashlea Troth and Kathryn Moura also contributed to this publication.