Since 2007 we’ve asked leaders and team members to identify the top issues facing their organizations — and particularly the “people side” of the equation. The survey explores top issues as well as employee attitudes and the role of emotional intelligence in solving those key issues.

We start by asking an open question, “In simple terms, what are the top 2-3 issues in your organization?” — the report is peppered with intriguing answers.  The one to the right is fairly thematic both in the manager’s comment, and the graphic representing a sense of irreconcilable internal conflicts.

The full report is available for free using the download form below.

These finding represent 775 responses from leaders and employees worldwide. They come from all levels (mostly management, 26% senior execs) and all sectors (mostly business & industry) and all global regions (mostly North America).

Three Key Findings:

one : Talent.

Find it.  Keep it.  Feed it.  Lead it.

The top issues globally, across sectors, tie to retaining good people and the leadership capability to align individual and organizational priorities.  Respondents recognize that people are burned out after years of “more with less” — while few organizations are taking serious and systematic efforts to create a place where good people actually want to work.

A visual summary is presented here — more frequently occurring words appear in a larger size:


two : Leadership Needed.

Vision is absent. People are not aligned.  Where are we going – and why?

As in our previous surveys, leadership remains a top concern.  On a selection of “people issues,” 58% of respondents identified leadership as the top concern.  What do they want from leaders?  The top “wish” is free, and an absolute basic:  Communicate the vision.

But, in times of stress, most leaders have their heads down to focus on the small stuff.  Few leaders are standing up and standing out.  The results are dangerous.


Senior managers perceive their organizations are using EQ – others, not so much.

three : Got EQ?

Organizations making EQ a priority score 32%-39% higher on the questions above.

Only 11% of the organizations in our sample earned a 5/5 on leveraging emotional intelligence.  Those with a 4 or 5 out of five are getting better marks from employees.  In this camp, respondents say EQ is important because it’s part of the culture and competitive advantage.  For example, this President from the sector of Business & Industry, in Mexico, wrote:  “EI is fundamental for improving communication, relationships, collaboration, teamwork and increasing self-esteem and enjoying work.”  The top reasons for creating an EQ culture are:

  • Customer and internal relationships (34%)
  • Effective work climate (30%)
  • Alignment of people, and people with strategy (27%)

On the other hand, those that don’t see EQ being valued, report three primary causes:

  • Leadership isn’t aware (38%)
  • There is a gap between company culture and principles of EQ (e.g., “our bosses ‘have no feelings'”) (27%)
  • There isn’t funding available / the financial value isn’t clear enough (23%)



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About the author - Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.

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Comments for this article (34)

  • Josh, this is the most compelling argument for the benefits of EQ I’ve seen! Beautifully done.

    And how do you keep churning out documents and classes and groups, and business?!? You’re a great example of how high EQ (intrinsic motivation, noble goals, et. al.) can propel you to higher and higher levels of success!

    • Joshua Freedman says:

      Thank you Matt. I feel a strong sense of urgency — and it’s deeply motivating to do work that’s meaningful. It will be no surprise to you that I find the more I’m connected to the purpose of support people to lead positive change, the more energy I have!

      • Right on, Josh! I too feel that sense of urgency — people are dying, quite literally, to know what we know about EQ! And like you, I get such energy and purpose through this work. In fact, I call it Ultimate Selfishness (US — a good abbreviation, don’t you think?!?).

        Ultimate Selfishness is changing the world for the better, for ME! It’s fun. It makes me feel good. And I don’t have anything better to do. (if only it paid better… oh well, someday)

  • nivedita sawant says:

    Thanks for such a good survey with a very clear picture about what is the exact role of EQ in today’s bussiness world.Hope the different organizations understand this and follow it to bring more success on their side.

    • Joshua Freedman says:

      Hi Nivedita – clearly they need help understanding the link – but I hope we’re gradually making it more clear.

  • Hi Josh,

    The report on EQ in Workplace is really wonderful, visually appealing and chock full of good information on what you discovered. Love all the graphics, images and graphs, color, design, etc. – beautiful job to make it easy at a glance (what our culture wants these days!)

    I haven’t clicked on the other links, but WOW! awesome. I just did a training for staff of a YMCA middle school after-school program, and most of it was based on getting them to be more aware of themselves and what they are bringing emotionally to the students, and working from there v. just offering tools or cookie-cutter suggestions. Interesting to see on the chart how little education sector spends on this given how much influence they have on children and adolescents.

    Might be able to use this to convince more schools to do staff trainings based on increasing EQ!

    Much love and blessings to you and yours!


    • Joshua Freedman says:

      Thank you Sally! And for the helpful typo-catching :)

      I strongly agree with you: The shift is from the surface “doing the job” to the profound “living the job.” I think one reason scores are so low in the education sector is that ed has become far too much about compliance and systems and policies. In the flurry of “back to basics,” we’re in danger of losing the point that THE basic is relationship. Which is part of why the work you are doing is so essential. Thank you for that!

  • Jan Hensley says:

    This answers the “Chicken or Egg?” question I pose to my clients when they tell me they will think about EQ and related training WHEN their management team is more aligned with the company’s vision and they have time to think about such things! The results of this survey certainly underscores what us EQ practitioners have known all along–when companies focus on the EQ of their Human Resources, THEN they are more aligned with the vision and mission of the organization, morale is up, HR problems are down, productivity is up. . . and on it goes.

    Good work, Matt!

    • Joshua Freedman says:

      Thanks for the comment Jan – there’s a kind of magical thinking happening… “when things settle down, we’ll fix it.” And then “things” become LESS settled, and the basics of org health decline as the chaos increases…

  • Bettina Seidman says:

    Hi Josh – It is my experience as a current career management coach and former HR director, that long term advantages of almost anything is of little interest to many American businesses. Alas in a recessionary environment, companies are even less likely to look long term at any kind of training or coaching.

    Another thought I will share – whenever I conduct any kind of corporate training for an organization, I always recommend some kind of EQ work in a future module…. and it generally works.

  • Thanks, Josh! A great resource for all of us working for greater investment in EQ.

  • Roy Potter says:

    Hi Josh, this work and your committment to this work continues to inspire, inform and encourage me in my work to promote and encourage the development of respect and trust within my organization. As you noted in your reponse to Sally, “THE basic is relationship.”



    • Joshua Freedman says:

      Thank you Roy – I know it’s like trying to turn a torrent by standing firm in the flood… but it’s work that must be done and I’m glad our piece is helping you do your piece… which will help the next guy do his piece… and we’ll see the change accelerate.

  • Avtar Saksena says:

    Hi Josh,

    It was a good reading and understanding of the subject. My only comment is that Why EQ is not working at work due to lack of ownership of work by majority of the employees . Now a days employees who deliver and perform are just 20% of the total workforce and with these 20% EQ works well.

    The concern is for 80% workforce.

    – AVTAR

    • Joshua Freedman says:

      Hi Avtar – you’re onto an intriguing issue. Like others, in our research we’ve found around 25% of employees are fully committed. Well — fully committed to their company & team. I think partly that’s the responsibility of the 75% who are not — we all need to take more ownership of our choices. Partly it’s the responsibility of the organizational leaders.

      A message to leaders: If only 25% of your employees are really adding value, maybe you are missing an opportunity?

      The research is fairly compelling that by doubling that number, you create best-in-class performance. And, the research is also fairly clear that you don’t get that engagement through money, perks, status, promotion opportunity… the BIGGEST single factor in employee commitment (again) is relationships. Wow – sounds like a theme.

  • Thanks Josh. It’s refreshing and energising to read such a compelling presentation of survey findings, quotes and perspectives that reinforce the need for organisations to prioritise the people side of their business. Although you’re preaching to the converted here : ) it’s great to read something that is so affirming of the work we do – from trust, to relationship to communication. I’ll certainly promote your report as a Need to Read in the context of Need vs Nice
    Thank you for your commitment and renewal of the key messages.

  • ian llewellyn-nash says:

    Hi Josh, thanks for link to the report. You may be interested in comparing it with a UK based report produced last year by a company called JCA entitled Decade of EI. Some interesting findings particularly around the link between economic prosperity/austerity and EI

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