Employee Engagement: Reason With Evidence, Not Emotion.

Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash

I’m an emotional person; I know whether something is right or not just because it feels that way. And when this is the case, I like to make my views heard. However, as much as I trust my internal compass, quite understandably, other people don’t have my gut instincts and require more substantial fodder for their decision making.

If you’re struggling to make your emotional voice heard, you need to find the hard evidence to back up your intuitive claims.

The myth of high response rates

Recently, I told a colleague of mine that I would read her latest book and write a review. The book is called ‘Employee Engagement — A Practical Introduction. Just as I was approaching the end of her book, I came across an explanation of why we need lower survey response rates than the goals for which many organizations strive. The consensus about survey response rates is that they need to be high. Very high. It’s not uncommon to hear people say they need to hear from as many people as possible to gain a true reflection of the state of engagement in their workplace.

Of course, this is statistically wholly untrue. To gain a statistically valid figure of the state of engagement in your workplace you only need a representative sample of the population to respond. For a full run down of her statistical approach to sampling, refer to pages 199–200 in Emma Bridger’s ‘Employee Engagement a Practical Introduction.’

Minions can’t have morals

The description of the correct statistical approach to population sampling threw me back to an altercation I had with a head of HR in a global organization many years ago. The HR head wanted a 100% response rate from the 60,000-person organization, and she wanted me and a small team of HR minions to make it so.

From the outset, my heart told me that this approach was morally wrong. My belief is that people should never be forced to do anything, particularly not in an organizational setting. Not only is this immoral, what kind of results do you think you’re going to get by forcing employees to complete a survey they don’t want to complete? I can tell you: bad ones.

The annoying thing is, I knew back then that there was a valid logical reason why this approach was terrible. With my organizational psychology training, I’d studied statistics, confidence intervals, populations, and samples. I almost trained to be a statistician for goodness sake! But, when your moral compass decides to take charge, all logic can fly out of the window.

I took the moral high ground and, unfortunately, my emotional tact ultimately got me fired. The HR head didn’t want to hear my heartfelt reasons why people mattered more than the figures she needed to give to the CEO. She had a command from the top, and she needed to deliver.

Sadly, this is an all too familiar story when dealing with the c-suite. Even if these people have a moral compass of their own, they have a job to do and if they can’t deliver on that job they need hard facts to prove why they can’t.

People think differently

The moral of this story is that not everyone thinks in the same way you do, and when money and peer pressure is involved, people often need hard data to support their hunches and win arguments.

Ultimately, if you’re an emotional thinker like me, you probably find that you can usually trust your instincts, but you can’t expect others to do the same. By coming up with both emotional and logical reasons why something might not work, you can meet the needs of every possible audience, and achieve your initial goal.

Affecting change means finding a way to voice your message so that people will listen. The trick is doing it without losing your morals.




Organizational Psychologist, Career Coach, and Author. Helping you love to work. www.letslovetowork.com.

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Let’s Love to Work

Let’s Love to Work

Organizational Psychologist, Career Coach, and Author. Helping you love to work. www.letslovetowork.com.

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