Take a look at the four employees you most enjoy working with. One of them will leave their job this year, according to the Work Institute’s Retention Report.

Are you OK with that?

Probably not, assuming your company is like most and retaining employees is a major strategic focus for you.

What can you do to make a dent in that number? Focus more on a Return on Emotion and less on the standard Return on Investment.

Emotional intelligence is about to become the single most important trade. Skills, through technology growth, will continue on a daily basis to be commoditized. But your emotional capabilities to interact with others will become a very, very important trade.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

What is Return on Emotion

Return on Emotion is a measurement of your employees’ emotional satisfaction. It takes into account things like your employees’ feelings about loyalty, pride, enthusiasm, feeling appreciated and their outlook of the future.

Return on Emotion is also just good business. Knowing your employees’ needs, wants and preferences is the first step in cultivating a positive work culture packed with engaged workers. According to Gallup, employees are more likely to be engaged when they can approach their managers with any type of question and talk to them about non-work-related questions – in other words, they feel like their manager cares about them as a person, not just as an employee.

In short, Return on Emotion is about putting your workers first because they, as individuals, matter.

Why Does Return on Emotion Matter?

For one, because as an HR professional, it’s your job to care about your employees.

But as a corporate strategy, having an emotional stake in your workforce can lead to:

  • Emotionally intelligent leaders
  • Higher performance among workers
  • Better employee retention
  • Higher rates on engagement
  • A more intense sense of belonging
  • More attachment to your organization (also known as employer brand loyalty)
  • Higher rates of customer satisfaction
  • A better bottom line

How to Take Your Organization’s Emotional Pulse

If your organization hasn’t tuned into the emotional state of your workforce, it’s time for an employee checkup. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Talk to every single employee, personally or by survey
  • Get a clear view of who people love to work with, hate to work with and why
  • Ask for measurements on emotional happiness, like loyalty, satisfaction and pride in working for you
  • Repeat the process often; an employee’s journey through life and employment can change drastically in just a few years


Make Changes with a Focus on Long-Term Success

Creating a long-term strategy for a positive Return on Emotion may feel like a short-term setback. It might include such dramatic steps as letting go of problematic employees, even if they are high performers, or slowing growth to invest in better benefits or more employees to improve work-life balance.

Here are some practical ways to build a solid Return on Emotion:

  • Implement changes based on your employee checkup
  • Remove “downer” employees, who negatively impact the experience of others
  • Create teams of employees with different perspectives who keep an eye on the emotional tone around the workplace and are empowered to bring about change
  • Organize a quality employee recognition program, which is one of the best ways to “fill the emotional bucket” of a workforce
  • Launch, or bolster, an employee referral program; it acts as a measurement of employees’ pride and also brings in candidates who already have a positive view of the company

It’s in our nature to seek out a sense of belonging, and for many, we find it in the workplace. Employers who want a thriving team need to remember the impact their role can play in the lives of their workers. A positive Return on Emotion isn’t just good for business, it’s good for the soul. In the business world, it might sound corny, but the truth is that people want to work for a company that cares about them.

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