Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

The article describes emotional intelligence (EI) and how it can be used to improve relationships, foster a positive work environment, and increase personal and professional success.

Over the years, there has been a strong emphasis on improving the technical skills required to enhance job performance. However, in pursuing technical expertise, many still need to pay more attention to the importance of soft skills, particularly Emotional Intelligence (EI). The absence of emotional intelligence has been established as a significant issue, leading to conflicts, misunderstandings, and a lack of productivity in the workplace.

The concept of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to discern, accept, and manage one's own emotions, as well as the feelings of others. It is a critical skill for effective workplace communication, collaboration, and leadership. In a professional services firm, where relationships with clients and colleagues are crucial, EI can be a powerful tool for building strong connections and achieving success.

Renowned psychiatrist and author Daniel Goleman has conducted extensive research on emotional intelligence, particularly its impact on workplace success. In his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than Intelligence Quotient (IQ)," Goleman argues that emotional intelligence is a critical factor in determining success in the workplace, more so than IQ or technical expertise.

According to Goleman, individuals with high emotional intelligence are likelier to possess strong leadership qualities, be effective communicators, and exhibit greater resilience in the face of challenges. They are also better able to collaborate with others, build positive relationships, and manage conflict.

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

One of the critical benefits of EI is its ability to improve recruitment and retention. Emotionally intelligent leaders can better identify and hire the right fit for the company culture with the right skills and qualifications. They can also create a positive work environment to retain employees long-term, leading to better overall performance.

In a study conducted by TalentSmart, a leading provider of emotional intelligence assessments and training, it was found that employees with high EI were 20% more productive than those with low EI.

EI can also play a crucial role in improving communication and collaboration in the workplace. Emotionally intelligent individuals are better able to understand the emotions of others, which allows them to communicate and collaborate more effectively and automatically leads to better outcomes for the firm and its clients and improved performance as a result.

Richard Boyatzis, co-author of Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, argued that EI is crucial for effective leadership, which is critical in retaining talented employees. Emotionally intelligent leaders are better able to create a positive work environment, build strong relationships with their team members, and provide the support and encouragement that employees need to thrive. As a result, they are more likely to retain their best people and build high-performing teams. They also tend to be more resilient and adaptable in the face of change, which is essential in today's fast-paced business environment. With that in mind, let's explore how Human Resources (HR) can effectively embed an emotional intelligence culture.

HR’s role in embedding EI culture

To improve EI in the workplace, HR professionals can take several steps. The first step in embedding emotional intelligence culture is to hire employees who already possess these skills. According to Dr Daniel Goleman, "The most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence."

HR should look for self-awareness, Empathy, and emotional regulation when interviewing potential hires. By doing so, they can create a better-equipped workforce to handle stress, conflict, and change. Google is well-known for its focus on emotional intelligence in the hiring process. According to Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, the company uses a rigorous interview process that evaluates a candidate's problem-solving abilities, cognitive flexibility, and emotional intelligence.

Another approach is to implement training and development programs that focus on EI. These programs can help employees develop the skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, as well as the feelings of others. Even if employees possess some emotional intelligence skills, they may still benefit from additional training to further develop these abilities. Dr Marc Brackett, author of the book "Permission to Feel," opines "Emotional intelligence can be taught and learned, and it should be a priority for organizations."

HR can provide emotional intelligence training through workshops, coaching, or online courses. Doing so can help employees develop stronger relationships, communicate more effectively, and manage stress and anxiety. American Express is an example of a company providing employees with emotional intelligence training. The company has a program called the "Emotional Intelligence Leadership Development Program," which includes workshops, coaching, and self-assessments to help employees develop their emotional intelligence skills.

Creating a positive and supportive work environment that encourages open communication and collaboration, which can foster a culture of emotional intelligence and help employees develop the skills they need to succeed, is considered a positive step towards achieving an EI-centered work environment.

HR should also consider leading by example. In Dr David Rock's book "Your Brain at Work," "Leaders who model emotional intelligence create an environment where people feel safe to express themselves, collaborate, and take risks." HR can model emotional intelligence by listening actively, demonstrating empathy, and regulating their own emotions in challenging situations. By doing so, they can set a positive example for other employees to follow. Microsoft is an example of a company that models emotional intelligence at the leadership level. According to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, "Empathy is a critical skill for leaders to have. It allows us to connect with customers and employees on a deeper level and build stronger relationships."

Embedding an emotional intelligence culture within an organization is critical for creating a positive and productive work environment. HR plays a crucial role in this process by hiring for emotional intelligence, providing training and modelling these values at the leadership level.

By doing so, companies can build a workforce better equipped to handle interpersonal relationships, communicate effectively, and manage conflicts constructively. This step can increase employee satisfaction, retention, and overall organizational success. Additionally, a culture of emotional intelligence can foster innovation and collaboration, as individuals feel more comfortable expressing their ideas and working together towards common goals. Ultimately, investing in emotional intelligence within an organization can have far-reaching benefits for employees and the company.


In conclusion, we cannot overstate the crucial importance of emotional intelligence to workplace success. By developing our emotional intelligence skills, we can become better leaders, communicators, collaborators, and problem-solvers, ultimately contributing to a more positive and productive work environment. Mastering these skills takes time and practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort.