In an era of digitalization, robotics and pandemics, the world of work and the service industry are changing rapidly. Jobs and activities are increasingly being automated, and employees and workplaces are more and more remote, dispersed, virtual and global. While this technology and transformation brings with it many opportunities and benefits, including increased flexibility, productivity and performance, it is critical however to not lose sight of the human touch. After all, we are still, for the most part, dealing with humans and not machines and as humans, a 100% of our decision-making is made emotionally, followed by hours, weeks or months of underpinning these decisions with logical justifications. We need to engage with people as people – and remember people and emotions are inseparable.
Today, soft skills like emotional intelligence, empathy and integrity, are in growing demand for employees and leaders. Considered essential to the future of work, these emotional and social competencies are becoming a competitive differentiator for businesses. In 2017, a Deloitte report forecasted that “soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030” and hiring employees with strong soft skills “could increase revenue by more than $90,000”. In turn, the Harvard Business Review’s 2016 Empathy Index demonstrated that empathy “is more important to a successful business than it has ever been”, correlating to growth, productivity, customer satisfaction and higher earnings.
What is emotional intelligence (EQ), and what role does it play in the workplace?
By definition, emotional intelligence, also referred to as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage both one’s own emotions and that of others. It is widely acknowledged that emotional intelligence can be broken down into four core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness or social skills, and relationship management.
Individuals with high EQ have a tendency then to be more attuned to their feelings and that of others, making them more empathetic, mindful, agile, diplomatic and genuine. All desirable attributes in this changing landscape where “emotional fitness” will be all the more important as an organizational capability to adapt, recover and prosper in a post-Covid world with its remote work, flexible work schemes, a growing appetite for purpose and meaning, and the rise of the experience economy.
Emotional intelligence: key to productivity
The workplace is all about building and maintaining relationships and collaborating well with team members or with partners to generate results. Individuals possessing high emotional intelligence are inherently equipped to manage interpersonal relations effectively and create productive work environments.
Here are six ways that a high EQ workforce adds value and boosts an organization’s productivity?
- Their empathy improves communication.
With their tact, sensitivity and authenticity, highly emotionally intelligent individuals are able to adapt their communication style to the person or group with which they are interacting. Their heightened self-awareness also enables better listening, and listening with the intent of understanding, rather than simply responding. This empathic communication allows for open, honest and constructive conversations. Differences are leveraged, even celebrated, creating trust within the team and the organization, avoiding misunderstandings and promoting a positive work culture.
- Their adaptability promotes problem solving and innovation.
Recognizing that change is inevitable, high EQ employees are highly adaptable to the people and circumstances around them making them flexible and open to change, to new ideas and to exploring innovative solutions. Apt at appropriately applying emotion to manage and solve problems, they also tend to accept constructive feedback and criticism well, channeling it into a positive direction to continuously improve themselves, their work, and their teams.
- Their intrinsic motivation gets things done.
Emotionally intelligent individuals have a tendency of being more self-driven and self-disciplined, meaning they are proactive at taking initiatives and doing the work, or ensuring the work gets done. Often thought to be natural leaders, they are also very good at engaging with and motivating peers, inspiring them to do their best and improving team performance.
- Their ability to manage emotions mitigates conflicts.
Skilled at managing both their own emotions and that of others even under pressure, employees with a high emotional quotient are better able to handle and resolve conflict, either involving themselves or between others. They are less susceptible to being ‘hot-headed’ and responding to frustrating situations with counter-productive reactions, but rather to staying cool, calm and collected, and focused on having productive discussions and finding solutions.
- Their mindfulness strengthens collaboration and teamwork
With an innate capacity of seeing situations from other points of view, sensing unspoken feelings and a genuine care for people, emotionally intelligent employees have a knack for forming bonds and relationships and fostering a sense of belonging. By recognizing and valorizing other people’s need and concerns, they promote mutual respect, compassion and collaboration, and create a supporting, thriving and positive work environment helping to retain employees and attract new talents.
- Their people-centricity encourages valuable partnerships.
High EQ employees, with their exceptional interpersonal and communication skills and capacity of connecting emotionally with others, are well-equipped to understanding and meeting (prospective) client and partner needs, building and maintaining strong relationships, enhancing employee engagement and customer satisfaction, and striking new strategic partnerships to increase sales and investment opportunities.
Emotions: a new currency for the hospitality industry
The hospitality industry revolves around people interacting and helping other people. Being friendly, welcoming, attentive, and people-orientated are inherent to the profession as is being able to deal with different personalities, emotions and client-demands. So it’s no surprise that one of the most desirable competencies of a hospitality employee is emotional intelligence.
Studies have shown that hospitality professionals possess above average emotional intelligence. A good thing too as guests and clients today expect more than just a room to stay in or a meal to eat. They are looking for memorable experiences – ones that trigger a positive emotion which allows them to identify on an affective level with a brand or product. Because only emotionally charged experiences in a hotel or restaurant succeed in anchoring themselves in the long-term memory of guests and client, creating satisfaction and loyalty. This in turn can translate into future purchase intentions and recommendations, thus generating a decisive competitive advantage.
As the hospitality industry looks to tap into this new emotion economy and create more experience-oriented services that are associated with emotions, employees with high EQ are precisely the talent and skill needed to help businesses deliver outstanding experiences in the multi-cultural environments typically found in the hospitality industry.