Why Companies Must Prioritize Emotional Intelligence at Work

Learn why emotional intelligence at work is vital for the success of any company. BestCompaniesAZ shares how to improve emotional intelligence at work.
Employee with high emotional intelligence working on a computer.

Emotional intelligence — the ability to identify and understand your own emotions and those of others, and then use that information to carefully guide your thinking and actions — is a crucial aspect of a successful professional life. Why?

Think about it: If you are not aware of your own feelings, it can be difficult to know whether you’re having an emotional reaction to something.

This lack of emotional self-awareness (in other words, being unable to “read the room”) can also impede your ability to understand others’ emotions, making it harder overall for them to know how you feel about what they say and do.

Why Emotional Intelligence at Work is Important

Without a doubt, being able to openly and clearly communicate in the way HR managers want you to is a sure sign of emotional intelligence. Being able to openly and clearly communicate with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders (and employees) is usually a valued skill hiring managers are on the lookout for, and understandably so.

At the same time, emotional intelligence has also usually (and unfortunately) been seen as a trait candidates or employees bring into a company on their own, rather than as something a firm should help to introduce, develop, and maintain in its workforce.

The Spark That Lit a Fire

The COVID-19 pandemic that caused millions to lose jobs, and the subsequent “Great Resignation” which saw millions more Americans voluntarily leave their jobs for presumably greener professional pastures, both shook long-accepted presumptions about employer-employee relations to their core.

Some saw mass firings and resignations as a culling of firms’ weakest links, but others saw an increasingly cratering retention rate for what it was: a failure to understand and value hard-working employees, and use that info to keep them satisfied. Entire companies showed a  lack of emotional intelligence, and many are still picking up the pieces.

It’s Not All Bad News

Times are changing, though: More and more companies are more aware than ever of the need to prioritize and promote the idea of increased emotional intelligence at work — even if they don’t quite know the best way to go about it. Still, they recognize its importance, looking at research that shows that people who practice self-awareness and have high empathy levels are more productive and have more work satisfaction.

Since emotional intelligence can help people to understand and manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of others, you can see why companies need to have it to achieve success in nearly any position.

How To Become More Emotionally Intelligent

If you feel angry or irritated by something or someone, it’s important to recognize that this may not be your true emotion; you may actually feel hurt or sadness, rather than anger or irritation. How can you know which is which? You need to be able to take a moment to stop and think about what you’re feeling, and why.

The fact is that you cannot get rid of that which you don’t acknowledge. There can be many negative effects when people avoid honestly facing their emotions, including acting out “destructively” during an emotionally stressful event or time.

However, when you make an effort to get in touch with your emotions, you’re on the path to gaining emotional intelligence.

How To Improve Emotional Intelligence at Work

To say the past couple of years have been emotionally turbulent for a huge segment of the planet’s professionals would be an understatement; upheaval has followed upheaval, with little time to breathe. Suddenly being forced to work from home for months on end laid bare for millions of employees the inadequacies and inconveniences of commuting to and from (and working in) an office.

Meanwhile, companies had to learn how to work with skeleton workforces first as a matter of necessity (in the face of COVID-19 shutdowns) and then as a consequence of policies that prioritized corporate welfare far and above that of frustrated employees.

It should be pretty clear by now why companies must prioritize emotional intelligence at work — after all, what business wouldn’t want more engaged, more productive, more creative, and more loyal employees? The question, then, is how these firms can best go about improving their overall emotional intelligence.

In order to improve emotional intelligence at work, it must be fostered in the workforce; the irony is that this likely requires an emotionally intelligent approach that too many businesses haven’t displayed an aptitude for at the corporate level!

From the Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Strengthening emotional intelligence at work is a combined top-down and bottom-up process. At the corporate/management level, it requires a willingness to look at what motivates your employees and also what demotivates them — and then you must implement strategies based on what you’ve learned.

At the employee level, a good place to start trying to build emotional intelligence is by encouraging those working for you to take the time to focus on three particular aspects: Mindfulness, meditation, and journaling.

Practice Mindfulness

At its core, mindfulness is a way to see and acknowledge your thoughts as they really are. It is a raw appreciation of your current reality. It liberates people from older ways of thinking, helping them to focus on and make sense of their present moment or situation.

When you’re practicing mindfulness, you’re practicing awareness — and not running away from your emotions. If something bothers you, you acknowledge and confront it.

For employees, mindfulness is a great way to deal with life in an honest, non-judgmental way, reducing stress in the process.

Encourage Meditation

But, getting to a state of mindfulness can be easier said than done. It requires practice; you can’t just tell employees to “embrace mindfulness” and expect positive results. What companies should also do is encourage their employees to meditate, since meditation is one of the easiest and most effective paths to reach mindfulness.

Mindfulness meditation can empower employees by teaching them how to slow down their thoughts, release pent-up negativity, and achieve a state of practiced, enduring calm.

Companies that are truly dedicated to developing in-house emotional intelligence by championing mindfulness and meditation should consider providing spaces for employees to relax/decompress during the day. They can also start allowing employees to take mental health days that don’t dent accrued paid-time-off (PTO); taking care of their mental health should never be something employees feel they are being punished for.

Businesses may even want to go a step further, and explore how to provide insurance coverage for meditation or yoga treatments.

Get Into Journaling

Along with meditation and mindfulness, another way companies can strengthen emotional intelligence in their employees is by encouraging them to journal. Journaling is one of the most effective ways of getting in touch with one’s emotions. You could say it is a form of mindfulness, and in some sense — especially when you get into the flow of writing — it is also a kind of meditation.

However you see it, journaling provides a means of release for employees; rather than keeping their thoughts and feelings bottled up, they pour it all out on the page.

Once they are done with a journaling session, people often feel they are calmer than when they started. It might also be the case that their thoughts on a particular issue or problem are clearer after journaling than they were beforehand. Team leaders may want to hold team building sessions that involve journaling, enabling colleagues to share with others what’s been bothering them silently in writing, in a space without judgment, hopefully leading to solutions.

The Upshot of Prioritizing Emotional Intelligence at Work

When companies know how to improve emotional intelligence at work, and make earnest attempts — utilizing various methods — to do so, they are doing their part to make employees less stressed. The upshot of that isn’t just an increased likelihood of a positive experience at work for employees, which then results in more engagement.

No, what will also come about is a company that — at every level — is displaying emotional intelligence of the sort that will attract the best kind of talent around.

How To Find Emotionally Intelligent Companies in AZ

It’s no secret that the best candidates want to work for the best companies, and today, those are the ones that prioritize emotional intelligence at work, at every level. A company that is so empowered is a one that is incredibly well-prepared for the next “Great Resignation” or whatever else the next possibly unpredictable upheaval may be.

If you’re a job candidate looking for companies in Arizona that prioritize emotional intelligence at work, then BestCompaniesAZ can help connect you with them. The best employers in Arizona, the ones that prioritize emotional intelligence at work, can be found on BestCompaniesAZ. To find them and join them, get in touch today!

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