Sunday, 2 September 2007

EQ & Employee Disengagement

I attended an in-house, company presentation entitled "Enhancing EQ" by an external HR consultant, ostensibly part of the company's EAP.

It wasn't a great presentation partly because the goal was to promote their business (rather than educate the audience) and partly because it's a huge topic. Having said that, I could summarize the 1 hour easily:

1. Obvious: We all have emotions / feelings.

2. Interesting: People have different emotions about the same event.

3. Crucial: Our sub-conscious plays a huge and often unappreciated role in our emotional responses.

Explaining #3 wasn't even attempted except via some trivial examples and given it is the main point, left me, and I suspect others, confused and unsatisfied. A double-whammy was that she managed to emphasise employee dissatisfaction without offering hope or remedy. At one point, when she asked what our emotional reaction to being fired would be, the room almost pulsed with a collective "woo hoo". D'oh!

This slow-motion train wreck of a presentation did contain one fascinating point, mentioned in passing, that a Gallup survey found Singaporean workers were amongst the worst for workplace disengagement. Now this needs investigating ...

The original Oct 2003 Gallup survey is for paid/registered users only.

The next best is a Singapore Commentator piece itself referring to a NY Times article (now unavailable) but adds some fascinating words on the Freudian psychology of bullying bosses (which is a topic all of its own).

Better, there is a Government reference in a speech by Ms Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary (Manpower) which is worth reading in its entirety, but for example, quoted:

... that Singaporean workers were among the least committed workers amongst the world's developed economies.
... some 12 % of Singapore's workers felt actively disengaged from their jobs. But this ISR survey goes further in concluding that the key driver for their lack of commitment was their disenchantment with corporate leadership

I liked the "we needed productive, disciplined workers" part. Disciplined? I think she was heading for "obedient" but missed for whatever reason.

Para #8 explicitly cites the danger of dissatisfied knowledge workers seeking employment overseas to find a conducive workplace. Ouch. This is dynamite stuff and very much on-message as far as I am concerned.

Para #16 lays into the school system, e.g.: "When the human spirit is dampened down, there can be no passion."

I give up on the excerpts; just read the whole thing. It's all true I tell you.