What is emotional intelligence in HR?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions effectively. In 1990, psychology professors Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer established the theory of EQ. In his book Emotional Intelligence, renowned author Daniel Goleman explains the five components of EQ:

  • Awareness of emotions and noticing them as they occur
  • Handling emotions with poise and demonstrating the ability to self-soothe and overcome obstacles
  • Self-motivation and harnessing emotions to achieve high performance
  • Empathy  towards others and the capacity to relate to their feelings
  • Social competence in social interactions and leadership positions– necessary for healthy interpersonal relationships

Why should HR leaders care about emotional intelligence?

EQ touches upon every aspect of human life, enabling humans to function with confidence, resilience, motivation, and empathy. HR leaders rely on EQ to lead, manage, and collaborate with employees, while managers, in particular, need EQ to inspire engagement, motivation, retention, and productivity. EQ is the backbone of a healthy work environment, allowing employees to: 

  • Create healthy relationships 
  • Grow and improve 
  • Collaborate and communicate effectively 
  • Achieve goals

What can HR leaders do to boost emotional intelligence in the workplace?

HR leaders can infuse a healthy dose of EQ into the workplace by incorporating these constructive practices:

  • Lead by example. All leaders contribute to the tone in the workplace; their vibe impacts colleagues, lower-level managers, and employees. Through exemplifying EQ, HR leaders can help inspire others, letting self-awareness, regulation of emotions, and positive social skills become guiding forces among the work community.  
  • Train workplace leaders to hone their EQ. HR can implement training sessions to help leaders to practice active listening, problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-respect, and resilience. Empowering team-leaders and managers with these skills enables them to turn challenging and potentially stressful situations into opportunities for growth
  • Focus on mental health. Carving out time and space for employees to disconnect from relentless work demands enables them to reconnect to themselves. Guided meditation to encourage employees to pause before acting can sharpen their EQ. Creating an environment for wellness activities such as art, exercise, and music can help employees tune into their best selves. 
  • Nurture employee’s innate characteristics. Some positions demand more EQ than others, and each individual offers unique talents and skills to fulfill their duties and benefit their company. Some employees may exemplify admirable EQ qualities, while others may only demonstrate specific aspects of it. HR leaders can encourage employees to develop their EQ without forcing it.
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How does emotional intelligence improve company culture?

Building a workforce of sound employees and managers who appreciate their self-worth and that of others contributes to positivity in the workplace. EQ lays the groundwork for employees to flourish and build strong interpersonal relationships, empowering them to create a more meaningful and happier work culture.