Dear Leadership, Your People are Not Okay

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Dear Leadership,

This is the article that your employees wish they could send you right now. Your workplace is abruptly changing and your employees are not okay.

We hear it on a daily basis. Employees are feeling disengaged, leaders are burnt out, and teams are feeling disconnected. It’s becoming harder and harder to deny that new skills and tools are needed for the workplace of tomorrow. This requires awareness, understanding, and a clear roadmap for transformation. Luckily, it’s not as hard as you think.

It all starts with employee engagement. Employee engagement has emerged as a critical factor in driving productivity, retention, and overall organizational success. In today’s business landscape, employers are increasingly realizing the importance of implementing strategies to keep their workforce engaged and motivated. One such strategy gaining prominence is leveraging emotional intelligence (EQ) as a tool to enhance employee engagement. In this post, we will delve into the concept of employee engagement and explore how emotional intelligence can serve as a game-changer in fostering a thriving work culture. What do we mean by Employee Engagement?

Before we dive into the role of emotional intelligence, it is essential to understand the concept of employee engagement. Employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment and dedication an employee has towards their organization’s goals and values. Engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond their job requirements, resulting in increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, and reduced turnover rates.

How does Employee Engagement Connect to EQ?

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ, is the ability to recognize and understand one’s emotions and the emotions of others. It involves managing emotions effectively to guide behavior and build positive relationships. Studies have consistently shown that high emotional intelligence is strongly correlated with improved job performance, leadership effectiveness, and employee satisfaction.

  • Enhanced Communication: Effective communication is a cornerstone of employee engagement. With emotional intelligence, individuals can better understand and empathize with their colleagues’ perspectives, leading to improved collaboration, reduced conflicts, and a more harmonious and productive work environment.
  • Supportive Leadership: Emotionally intelligent leaders exhibit empathy, understanding, and good listening skills. They create an environment where employees feel valued, appreciated, and supported. Such leadership fosters trust, boosts morale, and encourages employees to give their best.
  • A Foundation of Trust: Emotional intelligence helps cultivate trust between employees and management. By acknowledging and valuing their emotions, leaders create a safe space where individuals can openly express concerns, share ideas, and actively participate in decision-making processes.
  • Increased Engagement & Teamwork: Conflicts are inevitable in any workplace. However, emotional intelligence equips individuals with the skills to manage conflicts constructively. By understanding the underlying emotions driving the conflict, employees can find mutually beneficial solutions, leading to increased engagement and teamwork.

Putting it all Together

To effectively integrate emotional intelligence into your employee engagement strategies, consider the following best practices:

  1. Start with Emotional Intelligence Training: Corporations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on employee training each year. However, without a foundation of EQ, those efforts can fall flat. EQ is the essential skill that people need to understand before they can layer other skills on top of it. Consider offering an introductory EQ training session or workshop to help employees and leaders develop their emotional intelligence skills. These programs can pay immediate dividends by enhancing relationship management and leading to a more engaged workforce.
  2. Foster a Positive Work Culture: Create a culture that values emotional intelligence. Encourage open communication in meetings, set up task-forces where people can collaborate with other teams, and build social events that make people feel a true sense of belonging. When you focus on promoting a positive work-life balance and employee well-being, your people can show up each day as their best selves.
  3. Lead by Example: Leaders should demonstrate emotional intelligence in their own behavior. By modeling self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication, you inspire your teams to follow suit. This can have a positive ripple effect across the entire organization.
  4. Provide Regular Feedback and Recognition: Establish a feedback mechanism to acknowledge employees’ efforts and provide constructive feedback. Recognize and reward emotional intelligence behaviors that contribute to a positive work environment.

How Does this Impact the Bottom Line?

People always ask us about the ROI on EQ training. How does this impact the bottom line? I simply explain: which group is going to be more productive for the KPI’s that matter to your business: a group that feels exhausted, frustrated and disengaged? Or a group that feels energized, motivated and empowered?

The missing ingredient is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the foundational skill needed for organizations seeking to promote employee engagement. By incorporating these strategies into your workplace, you can ensure that your employees are truly thriving. And when your employees thrive, your organization thrives.

Taryn McKenzie is the EVP of Client Solutions for TalentSmart EQ, the worldwide leader in Emotional Intelligence training. She has been leading teams for over 20 years in the executive training space and is currently pursuing her PhD in Organization Leadership. For more information, please check out additional resources at:

These strategies were adapted from the book, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Dr. Jean Greaves and Dr. Travis Bradberry. For more strategies that can help you improve engagement at your organization, check out our training programs or contact us.

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