Last week was an article in the Wall Street Journal headlined, “Companies Want to Know: How Do Workers Feel?” (Link below.) Golly, gee, I thought, isn’t that sweet?! As least some employers care about the well-being of their employees.
Silly me. I should’ve known better. Overwhelmingly, when companies want to know “how their workers feel” it’s not about the well-being of those in their employ, it’s about the well-being of the companies themselves. In fact, the overriding reason followers are given short shrift in the leadership literature is because the leadership literature is itself mostly targeted at the corporate sector – which cares more about corporations than it does about those who people them.
A moment into reading, I realized that this article was no exception. Self-interest drives the interest in knowing how workers feel. “Sentiment analysis software” is being used to uncover employee sentiments on issues ranging from diversity to promotion because in this competitive hiring market – especially in certain industries – companies are motivated to keep their workers happy in order to keep them in place. Twitter is an example. “Making sure that we know what employees expect out of their experience at Twitter and the degree to which we’re living up to those expectations is incredibly important to us,” said Twitter’s director of people systems and analytics.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Businesses are not only entitled to act in their self-interest, they are expected to do so. But just once I’d like to read an article about a company that wants to know how its workers feel for reasons less selfish and more altruistic. Just once I’d like to read an article about a company that wants to know how its workers feel just so that it can make them feel even better than they already do.