The Price of Employees’ Cognitive and Emotional Disconnect

17th September 2018

Tackling the 53%.

A recent Gallup article states that US employees are becoming more engaged climbing to 34% in recent months; the highest since records began in 2000. The benefits of engaged employees are well documented. Ultimately, when employees are more connected to, more invested in, and have a greater attachment to their organization they drive that organization’s success.

Conversely, it also reports that 16.5% are actively disengaged at work. These people are often referred to as the ‘toxic’ group. They make their unhappiness well known and often try to encourage other’s to share in their toxicity.

This means half of our staff members are either very happy or very unhappy at work. These two extremes of people are often the focus of discussions on employee engagement, but they only span half of the population. What about the other half?

53% of workers are neither actively engaged nor disengaged. These are staff members who ‘are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace’. The result? They show up, but they ‘do the minimum required’… and ‘will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer.’ They don’t cause organizations major or immediate issues, but they don’t bolster their status either…

What is a cognitive and emotional connection?

Imagine a culture where people are discouraged to challenge those in a position of seniority to them. In this scenario, employees at junior levels of the organization are unlikely to speak up when they have an issue. Maybe they had a disagreement with their immediate manager, or perhaps they have a concern with the efficacy of a safety protocol, or they feel uneasy about the direction in which the senior leadership team is taking the organization. These are examples of employee cognitive and emotional disconnections.

The impact of disconnection.

Senior leaders continue to operate as they always have without realizing or tackling the problems. As the issues stay unresolved, resentment sets in and relations continue to sour. Employees’ cognitive and emotional values become further disconnected from the organization risking these employees slipping from the 53% into the 16.5%.

Does your organization cognitively and emotionally connect employees?

Many companies adopt some form of employee engagement program. Often, such programs appear to ‘work’ in the beginning, but then stagnate as employees adjust to exciting new benefits becoming the norm. For example, a ping-pong table that gives employees time to have fun together during the work day, or a gift card every time they meet a sales target.

Many senior executives believe these initiatives address the cognitive and emotional factors of employees’ needs, but how sure are they that they’re getting to the core reasons of low employee engagement?

The price of failure.

Initiatives will only ‘work’ if they speak to your employees’ true cognitive and emotional issues. Without digging deeply into your employees’ true motivators, many initiatives fall flat after the initial few weeks or months of introduction meaning you invest time and money into programs that fail.

Unearth the unconscious.

A standard conscious review of the internal employee engagement culture at an organization is unlikely to unearth the true issues. The reason is that employees often feel uncomfortable explicitly sharing their true thoughts and feelings for fear of retribution or identification. To get to the heart of the issues, we need to get underneath the conscious facade and uncover employees’ unconscious thoughts and emotions about their work environment.

We can help.

At Innovationbubble, we use our psychological knowledge and suite of bespoke qualitative and quantitative tools and techniques to truly understand employees’ behaviours and decision-making processes. As psychologists, we then deploy our behavioural intervention skills to enable you to operationalise these insights. 

Author: Innovationbubble