Mood Linked to Beginning of Day

Summary
Start-of-day positive and negative moods have a significant influence on how employees feel and ultimately perform at work. This study found that the mood of employees before starting work strongly influences the mood during the workday. Also, a customer’s positive mood while interacting with a worker produces a positive mood in the worker. However, a customer’s negative mood affects only less-experienced employees. This indicates that providing training to employees might enable them to become more professional and less emotional, and help them to improve their performance.

Introduction
The mood of a person can influence his performance at work. An employee cannot park his mood outside before he enters his workplace. While working professionally, the employee also receives “emotional contagion.” Emotional contagion is a process by which a person’s emotional state is influenced by the emotional state of others. This is more important for employees working in a service industry, where the interaction with customers is high. A customer’s peculiar mood can usually influence the emotional state of the employee and affect his performance. The current study tested the influence of the moods of the employees before reaching their workplace and the moods generated during their interactions with customers at work.

Methodology
* At the time of this study, 29 customer service representatives (CSRs) from an insurance company call center attended on average 64 telephone calls per day, answering customer queries and providing information.
* During their working hours, the CSRs answered small surveys popping up on their computer screens about the status of their mood and their perception about the customer’s mood.
* The CSRs revealed their mood at the start of the day as well as its daily fluctuations. They completed an end-of-the-day survey measuring job satisfaction and burnout.
* They also rated customers whom they attended to on mood adjectives like upset, rude, calm, hostile, insulting, cheerful, friendly or frustrated.

Results
* A positive start-of-day mood was significantly related to the positive mood of the worker during the day at work.
* A negative start-of-day mood led to a negative mood during the day.
* The customer’s positive mood was related to the worker’s positive mood during the day.
* The customer’s negative mood led to a negative mood only in less-experienced workers.

Shortcomings
The findings of this study are based on only 29 participants. As this is a small sample size for a study, the findings were not universal and could not be extended to other customer service organizations. This study looked at workers from a single organization engaged in a call center activity. “The pattern of the findings does not suggest common source bias as the relationship between perceptions of customer mood and worker daily mood (measured at the same time) is actually weaker than the relationship between start-of-day mood and worker daily mood.” More research would point out to the specific events before the start of the workday that influence the worker’s mood mostly during working hours.

Conclusion
The start-of-day mood has a strong impact on an individual’s daily mood and his work performance. Two aspects of workers’ moods can influence their work performance. The mood at the beginning of the day before the worker arrives at his workplace creates a framework for his subsequent mood during the course of the day. Emotional contagion from customers can also influence the mood at that particular moment and hence affect the worker’s performance at the workplace. This study also noted that the negative mood of the customer produces a negative mood only in less-experienced employees. Probably, experienced workers recognize the emotions of the customers better and respond to them professionally and objectively.

For More Information:
Waking Up on the Right Side of the Bed: The Influence of Mood on Work Attitudes and Performance
April 2006
By Nancy Rothbard; Steffanie Wilk; University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.


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