Shaping Tomorrow has published my latest trend alert, Engaging Employee Emotions. This blog post is not a reprint of that trend alert. Please read it first, and if you have time, I hope you can read the blog post too.

Casual Friday is an everyday experience for many successful companies and a dead fad for others, but the key takeaway from its successes is the importance of employees’ personal lives on the productivity of a company. Employees do not need to wear t-shirts to work, but they do need to come to work with their personal lives in check. However, companies need to understand that people come to work with the rest of their lives on their shoulders whether it’s a death, illness, child with drug addiction or another of the endless problems found in a big organization. How effectively can anyone check even a personal failure, a public embarrassment, or a divorce at the office door without help?

It may cost companies big bucks trying to daily handle employees’ personal issues, but it will cost them potentially much more in lost productivity and other factors to ignore issues or try replacing every employee with a personal problem.The casual Friday fad is a prime example of corporations dancing around the issue and encouraging employees to maintain a separation between their personal and professional lives. Other companies like GE have attempted to help employees reconcile their personal and professional lives, but this can cause more problems if an employee’s emotional trauma is ignored because the employee then brings that emotional trauma to work in the same way they handle it at home–abusing colleagues, etc. A person’s emotions are very important, and issues need to be addressed quickly and effectively to maintain productivity.

This is not to say that all employees need to be happy. Those emotions seen as negative–e.g. greed, anger, jealousy–can increase a persons analytic skills and concentration. The question is not whether an employee is happy and appeased. The question is whether they are self-controlled and stable. Can they do their work without diverting their attention to their personal problems? If yes, then leave them to it. If no, they first need someone to notice. Then they need someone or something to help them regain mental focus.

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