Finding a Link Between Emotional Intelligence and Employee Engagement

Recently, I found myself asking the question, “Why is employee engagement not a priority for many companies?”

As business owners, we are often too busy working “in the business” instead of “on the business.” It is easy to focus on the day-to-day challenges and not look at the whole picture and why these challenges might be happening.

A current study by Dale Carnegie and MSW Research questioned a nationwide demonstrative sample of 1,500 employees across a wide range of industries and found only 29% of respondents to be fully engaged! That means that more than 70% of respondents are just putting in time, and working with a very insignificant amount of effort to accomplish minimal results.

Businesses lose millions if not billions of dollars yearly due to disengaged employees, presenteeism, and absenteeism, which often turns into lack of employee retention. This is not only a brain drain, but also a money drain for the company.

The study found employee engagement is often most affected by an employee’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor. I believe this is not the only factor.

In my humble opinion, the bottom line is that the immediate supervisors and leaders are responsible for the engaged employee AND the disengaged employee. If the leadership style is triggering fear in people or causing frustration or anger, it will impede intellectual brain functioning and decrease productivity. In fact, it often leads to more mistakes and less intuitive problem solving. It has been said that people join organizations but leave their supervisors.

The other factor that affects employee engagement is the emotional intelligence (EI) of the leader, the employee and the company’s culture. Real engagement comes from the employee’s emotional connection with the company’s culture, the leader and with the work itself.

A company culture that creates trusting and respectful relationships practices emotional intelligence. EI will produce leaders and employees who are less combative and more approachable. They know and trust themselves, so they don’t need to demonstrate their individual power. Instead, they work as a team, with the success of the company as the core motivator. EI is all about the ability to connect with people on a personal level – understand what drives their people.

There are 5 aptitudes of Emotional Intelligence which are important in the workplace:

  1. Empathy: the ability to sense how others feel and connect at an emotional level
  2. Political Acumen & Social Skills: our adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others
  3. Self-Awareness: the ability to know one's internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions
  4. Self-Regulation: the ability to manage one's internal states, impulses, and resources
  5. Self-Expectations & Motivation: the emotional tendencies that guide or facilitate reaching goals

Emotional intelligence, and these aptitudes, is learnable. Actively, consistently developing the skills of EI is a “must do” for today’s and tomorrow’s leaders and employees.

Employee engagement is an inside emotional intellectual job. It means employees must inspire themselves to become engaged by increasing their emotional intelligence; however it is up to the company leadership to learn EI themselves and create the environments where self-engagement is possible.

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