Photo: Jakob Owens
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, joined Meghan M. Biro for the January 17, 2020 #WorkTrends podcast. The topic: disasters, of the workplace kind. Dr. Tsipursky is a consultant, cognitive neuroscientist and expert on behavioral economics. Noting that we’re still suffering from an epidemic of disengagement, he pointed to one glaring omission in workplace culture: empathy. Empathy is critical to a successful workforce, Meghan agreed — and disengagement is absolutely a disaster in the workplace.
Gleb’s take on our lack of empathy is that it stems from something deep-seated in all of us: cognitive bias. “The empathy gap is one of the biggest cognitive biases out there and one of the worst causes of employee disengagement,” he said, noting that research shows that 80% to 90% of our decisions are determined by our emotions. “But if you look at HR material, if you look at internal communication, it’s very rational, very logical.”
“Why are HR leaders not able to deal with employee emotions in an effective way? Where’s this disconnect?” Meghan asked. Gleb said there were actually two disconnects at work: first, the false perception that work doesn’t involve emotions and the workplace isn’t a place for feelings; and second, the general discomfort many of us have in dealing with emotions. “There’s no ‘emotional unit.’ Even though emotions are incredibly important, HR professionals aren’t comfortable with things they can’t quantify.”
Gleb recounted some examples as a consultant where focusing on emotions make a key difference in performance as well as engagement. Even “engineers have emotions,” he noted with some humor. But the point was well-taken. There’s a lot we can all do to get better at dealing with the feelings side of working — and that’s how we’ll all get more work done.
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