You know those commercials, “If people said what they really mean?” What if we did that at work? What if we all said what we really meant? What if we had the freedom to truly answer those internal corporate surveys? Have you ever gotten the Emotional Intelligence survey? Now, my experience is very limited and one-sided but part of the Emotional Intelligence course is choosing people throughout the organization to complete a survey which asks different questions about, well, your emotional intelligence. Questions like: do you think Suzie wears her emotions on her sleeve or is able to compose herself in stressful situations? Well, Suzie is actually a complete fricken psycho because she never shows any emotion what so ever! Is that an option? What kind of a message is this sending to employees of Suzie anyway? Are we expected to be nonemotional robots? Is this the type of culture we are promoting?
I’ve talked to others who have completed these questionnaires and the perception of lack of confidentiality is enormous! One person said, “my friend’s husband works for one of those agencies that conduct these surveys and they do send answers to the leadership about how we responded. It’s a way for them to get rid of us!” Paranoia and distrust are running rampant throughout organizations. Leaders fail to see it because “the survey says…. everything is fine.” Maybe the survey is crap. I know another person who recently left their job after 13 months. She was so burned out from 10 hour days and working on mindless/useless work that she quit. She is a sole supporter of her family and she was pushed so far she quit. She quit without having another job lined up, she left the security of her income, her insurance benefits and she left 3 months before being vested in her 401k because she could not take bring in a non-value added position one more day. Now this situation is unique because she did not quit and leave that same day. She first went to her leader and expressed her concerns. She stated there wasn’t a workload that demanded her to be present 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. She stated she wanted more work-life balance (like she was promised when she was hired). She not only told her leader why she was unhappy but she said it had gotten to the point where she needed to look for something else. She was given 3 months to find alternative employment while they backfilled her role. During those 3 months, she had to push on and pretend everything was well in front of her staff. She had to push on and pretend everything was well in front of her family. She had to pretend this was “what was right” and to believe that it would “all work out.” Those three months could have been used by management to gain an invaluable insight into the dysfunction of the department. You see, she was the 4th person in that position over the past 5 years. This clearly was not a matter of a poor fit or job dissatisfaction. This was the 4th person to leave under the management of 1. Flaws in response include: leaders leader never once approached her over those 3 months for insight into the issues. HR was emotionally unavailable to provide the support needed. Plus, the leader had requested she complete an emotional intelligence survey for an upcoming seminar.
The level of distrust and dysfunction between employee and employer has grown and will continue to grow until we all start being honest, with ourselves and each other. Reputations precede most employers and there is a disconnect between what employees really want and what employers are willing to give.
I often hear employers say staffing and recruiting are some of their highest costs. My first question to them is what value do you put on your employees? I often hear we value our employees highly! We have a team just for employee relations. We have an ethics hotline, we have outlets and steps for disgruntled employees to take if they feel we are unfair. We operate great in the space of valuing our employees! Do you? Or are you listening to a different frequency than they are broadcasting?
The truth is, many companies are willing to take a certain amount of risk for not treating all employees right. You can’t make everyone happy now, can you? No, you can’t. You can, however, practice what you preach. If you do, the reputation preceding you will work in your favor.