Emotional Culture Deck: a new approach to organisation culture through the F* word {*Feelings}

Posted by | August 17, 2021 | Employers, Recruiting tips, Retention

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By Sarah Firth

Most of us are used to talking about our purpose, vision and values as organisations – there might be one or two team meetings about it and some people might be really clear on their organisational vision and values (usually because they have written them) but they might have forgotten to talk to the rest of the team when onboarding and reviewing.

Your company values might be up on the wall but has anyone remembered to tell the new recruit about why they were chosen over hundreds of other worthy values?

So, how do we create real actions and behaviours that cement the organisation’s purpose, vision and values or cognitive culture, that undoubtedly remains a very important part of shaping a great team?

We talk about the emotions that we do want to feel, and those we might not want to feel at work, and we talk about it together! Not just once, but often – at every employee touchpoint from recruitment to stakeholder and customer engagement. Emotions influence how we think and behave which in turn feeds into engagement, motivations, and performance. Research has proven that the emotional culture of a workplace influences employee satisfaction, burnout, teamwork, and even hard measures such as financial performance and absenteeism.

Because emotional culture is most often communicated nonverbally, through posture, facial expressions and eye contact, it can make speaking about emotions much harder to articulate. Particularly if you rarely speak about emotions in the work context.


Jeremy Dean’s Emotional Culture Deck makes talking about our emotions at work tangible, tactile and accessible.

Having access to a pack of cards with words to label our emotions means that we are better placed to label and then share what emotions we need to thrive in the workplace. The Emotional Culture Deck starts conversation about the emotions your workplace needs, and doesn’t want, for success. By starting these valuable conversations in the workplace we begin to encourage empathy and vulnerability that leads to a more honest, open and secure work environment.

Used as a tool within the recruitment and induction process, The Emotional Culture Deck is a valuable conversation starter that very quickly highlights the expectations and intentions of both leaders and interviewees in a fun way without feeling like you are being tested. Imagine quickly and painlessly hearing what a potential employee thinks are the most valuable emotions for them to feel in a workplace. Can you provide a space where they will feel “compassion, supported, at ease and confident”? Or do you as a workplace have some work to do in the area of confidence? Have you identified areas that could be worked on by talking about what it means to your employees to feel supported?

Imagine using these powerful words of emotion in your job ads and job descriptions instead of the same old tired lines that mean little to your company. Using language that directly reflects the emotions signaling success will help you to attract the right people for your organisation and vice versa.

Humanising the workplace won’t happen in just one meeting, workshop or conversation, to embed a vibrant emotional culture and foster trust and the ability to be vulnerable, these conversations need to become a part of your team’s vocabulary.

Check in with your team regularly with an emotion tracker provided on the Emotional Culture Deck Canvas to see how much (if at all) they are feeling the core desired emotions that have been agreed while using the deck. If the tracking shows that people are not aligning with a chosen emotion, it is time to reassess the actions you have decided on to help your team feel more aligned with that emotion.


The Emotional Culture Deck can be used for your not-for-profit organisation in one to ones, leadership teams or workshops. 

It can help with:

  • Setting intentions (annual, quarterly or monthly)
  • One to one check ins
  • Leadership strategy sessions
  • Professional development
  • Employee satisfaction reviews
  • A year in review
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Change implementation
  • Team mergers
  • Employee and customer experience touch points, i.e. communication (internal and external), physical environment, recognition, development and training

And more!

The Emotional Culture Deck has been used by sports teams, families, large corporates and tiny startups.  Be the next team to embrace a healthy and thriving emotional culture.

If you want to talk more about emotional culture and how a coach and the emotional culture deck could help you, contact me at [email protected]

Or buy your own deck at:


Or, read more about emotional culture in these articles:





About Sarah Firth

Sarah enjoys helping others turn their ideas into action by coaching them towards clarity and confidence.

When she isn’t coaching or teaching mindfulness, Sarah is with her family and friends in the beautiful Martinborough.

If you would like to know more, head over to her website www.sarahfirthcoaching.com or send her a message to [email protected]  for a free discovery call.

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