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Creating an Emotionally Intelligent Workplace

Creating an Emotionally Intelligent Workplace

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, as popularised by psychologist and author Daniel Goleman in 1995, refers to the capacity to perceive, understand and manage one’s own feelings and emotions.

Emotional intelligence (often known as EQ) is becoming increasingly vital to the success of the digital future of work. In fact, the World Economic Forum ranked EQ sixth out of the ten skills employees need in order to thrive in the workplace.

However, EQ isn’t merely a single skill. It’s made up of the following five proficiencies:

1. Self-awareness

2. Self-regulation

3. Internal motivation

4. Empathy

5. Social skills


When you possess all five skills, you can consider yourself to be truly ‘emotionally intelligent’.

The importance of emotional intelligence at work

Having the knowledge and ability to use these five distinct components in the real world will give the employee the edge in the following areas:

Job performance – many mental health experts believe that emotional intelligence is a valuable asset in the workplace. It can help employees to better cooperate with others, manage work-related stress, solve conflicts and nurture relationships. 

Career progression – according to a survey by Career Builder[NW1] , 75% of managers said they were more likely to promote the higher EQ worker. In an ever-competitive work environment where the job market looks more closely at intangible assets, having the ability to manage emotions will give an employee the edge.

Being mindful – many business decisions rely on interpersonal skills, understanding, teamwork and communication; so, being emotionally intelligent is vital.

Utilising the power of emotional intelligence to maximise employee wellbeing

Studies have shown links between EQ and mental stability, where employees with a higher EQ have a more positive attitude than those with a lower EQ. This has a profound impact on wellbeing, because they have a better understanding of their emotions.

Emotionally intelligent individuals can communicate in a more positive way and build stronger relationships. Their ability to recognise emotions and the effects on other employees will give them a better idea of their own strengths and weaknesses.

EQ also cultivates the ‘giving’ culture and enhances social skills to form better working relationships – therefore maximising employee wellbeing.

Examples of emotional intelligence in the office environment

Meetings – we have all been in meetings where it seems like everyone is talking over each other, trying to be the loudest. This is a sign of a lack of EQ. However, allowing people to speak without interruption is a sign of good EQ, demonstrating mutual respect and ultimately resulting in a more productive meeting.

Mood swings – almost all employees will get upset and have bad moods. Showing compassion and understanding, as well as being self-aware, is a sign of emotional intelligence.

Change in workplace – change is inevitable. However, if change is constantly resisted, it may indicate poor management of initiatives with lack of understanding of their impact. A sign of strong EQ is the ability to plan, introduce and respond to change in a strategic manner.

Being social – whether it’s a team lunch, carpooling or simply colleagues having a chat near the water cooler, inclusive social behaviour provides a solid defence against stress.

Can you ‘create’ an emotionally intelligent workplace?

Much like a personality trait, emotional intelligence is often regarded as a quality you’re either born with or learn throughout your life. Although some people are certainly pre-disposed to characteristics like self-awareness and empathy, this doesn’t mean that you can’t purposefully nurture its foundations amongst your workforce.

Encouraging strong employee relationships is a solid foundation for EQ. Collaborative workspaces, engaging break-out areas and welcoming lunchrooms will all help to develop a culture of emotional intelligence, where colleagues enjoy working together and are motivated to improve their output as a result.

Not only are staff likely to remain loyal to emotionally intelligent workplaces where they feel ‘looked after’, but they’re attractive to new employees, too. An emotionally intelligent office design makes an instant impression on prospective new staff, before they even need to invest any time getting to know your workforce – allowing you to be ahead of the curve when it comes to recruiting the best (and therefore the most selective) talent.

Emotional intelligence plays an important role not only in wellbeing but also in your company’s success. Companies who invest in an inspiring office space which encourages collaboration and wellbeing will see additional benefits and rewards, particularly in terms of employee happiness and growth of an emotionally intelligent culture.

If you’re ready to start creating a space that truly reflects your company values, brand and culture, get in touch with the team here at Axis House to learn more.  

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