Paul Russell, co-founder and director of Luxury Academy London continues his series of illuminating HR guides:
Increasingly HR professionals are exploring the relationship between concepts such as well-being, personality and stress with workplace performance. And with emotional intelligence in particular being linked to not only better performance, but to job satisfaction, development of effective work relationships, greater workplace loyalty, enhanced firm revenues and overall job role advancement and success, it is not hard to see why.
Studies have asserted that those with high emotional intelligence (EI) are more likely to exhibit characteristics and behaviours that will enable them to become future leaders, indeed that EI is relevant to almost every job in existence, thus for the HR professional emotional intelligence is a multi-faceted construct; recruiting within an EI framework, developing EI in employees, and last but not least, in utilising emotional intelligence in their own practices.
Emotional intelligence can be seen as the ability to perceive, control and understand emotions; if a person possesses EI then they are able to recognise the emotional state of people around them, adjusting communication, actions and behaviours as required. Additionally, those with high EI are able to manage their own emotions; in a stressful work situation for example, they will recognise and regulate their emotional response to it. The result is less workplace situations perceived negatively, and subsequently less turnover intention.
The rise in importance of EI could be attributed to the rise in the service economy. A 2015 House of Commons briefing paper asserts that service industries account for 74% of businesses and 79% of employment in the UK, more roles than ever are customer facing. Employees present the ‘face’ of the brand to customers, they need to be able to not only present a controlled persona but deal with the often unpredictable nature of being the front line person for complaints, issues and problems.
Theories of emotional intelligence are generally either ability based or mixed models. Ability based models focus on how the individual uses intelligence to guide emotions, through emotional perception, emotional facilitation, emotional understanding and emotional management for example, stating a strong link between emotion and cognition whereas mixed models see EI as a combination of individual personality and abilities. Goleman’s 1995 work saw EI as a mixture of social and personal ability.
Whatever the conceptualisation, there are strategies that HR professionals can use personally, and in their recruitment and development of EI in employees. One of the first points to remember is that workplaces, both front line (employee, customer and even customer, customer), back office (employee, employee) can be emotional environments, the results of which can be stressful for employees if they are not equipped with the right strategies.
Identifying emotional triggers in specific job roles can be useful, as when employees are able to understand these cues they are more likely to recognise their emotional response and manage it appropriately. Secondly, emotion can impact greatly on other people and can be easily transmitted person to person, individuals that understand this can then begin to adjust their communications, behaviour and actions to suit the situation. Thirdly, training in coping strategies for dealing with difficult situations can enable individuals to deal with them more positively, leading to greater job performance and workplace satisfaction.