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Understanding the impact of mood on employee work performance and how to improve it

A person looking into the sea, moody, impact of mood on employee work performance, Mindletic blog.

Employees are rarely able to check their emotions at the door of their workplace, and they are frequently affected by the things that they encounter there during the workday. Employee mood in the morning and workplace events may both have an impact on how individuals feel and eventually perform at work.

What is a mood?

A mood is a person’s subjective feeling or emotional state, such as happiness or sadness. An individual’s mood can profoundly influence sensory perception, intellectual function, reaction time in a crisis, and various other physiological functions. It can vary over time and often within and between days.

According to researchers Frijda (1993) and Morris (1989), moods are typically distinguished from emotions by intensity, duration, and diffuseness. They are usually less intense, longer-lasting, and less specific to a particular object or behavior.

How employees start their day might affect their work performance

According to Rothbard & Wilk (2011), employees may arrive at work in various moods each day, and these start-of-day moods may influence how they interpret their daily events at work and how they feel afterward.

A person may see a work event differently, whether they begin their day in a “good mood” or when they begin their day in a “bad mood.” Additionally, how employees feel at the start of the workday and during work-related events may significantly impact their daily work performance.


From the empirical perspective, the research in this field reveals:

  • Totterdell (2000) found a positive correlation between positive mood and objective performance in a sports context,

  • Miner and Glomb (2010) found a positive relationship between a pleasant morning tone and faster call times in a call center environment,

  • Rothbard & Wilk (2011) highlighted the importance of the mood employees bring with them to work. Whether they wake up on the “right or wrong side of the bed” is related to how they perceive work events, how they feel after those events, and how they perform during the day.

How employees start their day might affect their work performance

As mentioned, moods can significantly impact an employee’s work performance and behavior. Here are a few examples:

🌱 When employees’ moods are positive, they tend to be more engaged, motivated, and productive. They are also more likely to be creative, have better problem-solving skills, and make better decisions.

🌱 Negative moods can lead to lower motivation and productivity, increased absenteeism, and turnover. These states can also lead to interpersonal conflicts and make it harder for employees to concentrate and make good decisions. Employees in a negative mood also tend to require more breaks, as is consistent with theorizing on emotion regulation. Although, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Research on recovery activities and mood has suggested that taking breaks can change mood and influence performance when a person returns to work.

🌱 In apathetic moods, employees may lack energy, motivation, and drive to finish the task, leading to poor performance, low quality of work, and lack of creativity and innovation.

🌱 High levels of excitement or arousal can positively affect employees, as it may increase creativity, risk-taking, and motivation. Although, it can be counterproductive if it leads to a lack of focus and impulsive decision-making.

🌱 A neutral mood not significantly impacting an employee’s work performance may not be the best mood to foster productivity and creativity.

To put it all together, how people start the day may frame how they feel about work events, leading to better or worse performance.

Simple ways to lighten up your mood in the morning

Physical activity. Physical activities like walking, biking, dancing, and yoga can help enhance your mood and overall well-being. And positive emotions have been shown to lead to significant life outcomes, including the development of psychosocial resources (Hogan et al., 2015).

A short walk in nature. Scientists Lumber, Richardson, and Sheffield published a research paper in 2017 that suggested that being in nature evokes positive emotions (Lumber et al., 2017). Outdoor activities enhance the nature-human connection and act as a catalyst for happiness.

Relaxation techniques. Try yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or visualization, which can reduce stress, and anxiety, calming your nervous system before work and later in the day.

Creativity. Try drawing for 10 minutes. The act of drawing is, at its core, a piece of playful self-expression that has the power to help us explore our inner worlds, emotions, ideas, and thoughts.

There are several ways leaders can foster positive emotions in their employees too.

// Recognize and reward employees for their hard work and contributions. That can include verbal praise, bonuses, and other forms of recognition.

// Foster a positive work environment. That can include creating a culture of respect, open communication, and collaboration among employees.

// Provide opportunities for growth and development. That can include offering training and development programs, mentoring & coaching, and providing opportunities for employees to take on new challenges and responsibilities.

// Encourage work-life balance. That can include flexible scheduling, remote work options, and support for employees to take time off when needed.

// Lead by example. Employees will be more likely to exhibit positive emotions if their leader models positive behavior and attitudes.

// Encourage socialization and team-building activities. Creating opportunities for employees to bond and build relationships outside work can improve team morale and increase positive emotions.

// Provide clear vision and purpose. Provide employees with a clear sense of company goals, how their work contributes to those goals, and how it aligns with their values.

// Show empathy and be a good listener. Listening to and addressing concerns employees may come with can help them to feel more valued and respected.

Of course, specific strategies that will work best will depend on the company culture, industry, and individual employees. Additionally, the nature of work, company culture, and management play a role in how moods affect work performance. Of course, it’s not always easy for employees to manage their moods. Thus, it is essential for leaders to create a supportive work environment that promotes positive states and be understanding when employees are dealing with negative ones when analyzing work performance and its aspects.

Want to learn more about employees’ work performance and how to increase it? Reach out to our team and get a free consultation now.