Thursday 20 October 2016 6:00 am

How emotional intelligence can transform your business

You don't have to be an HR director to know that stress is an expensive business. And it’s on the increase. In 2014-15 stress accounted for 35 per cent of all work-related ill-health cases, and 43 per cent of all working days lost due to ill health in UK.

Traditionally, organisations have simply given stress management strategies a very wide berth, and/or have just used a combination of generic workshops and employee assistance programmes (EAPs) to address the issue.

While workshops and EAPs perhaps represent one facet of the solution, they rarely serve to ingrain employees with universally transferable skills that can also enhance the overall health, and nurture the long-term performance, of the workforce.

All too often, prevailing approaches provide a reactive rather than a proactive attitude to stress, while learning outcomes are rarely measured or embedded. In most cases, the impact of any personal insights or learnings gleaned from the interventions mentioned above tends to fade with the passage of time, meaning that individuals instinctively revert to type when crises or challenges emerge in the future.

This is where emotional intelligence profiling and coaching can prove so effective. Emotional intelligence is often wrongly categorised as a soft skill or a “nice to have”, rather than a business necessity. However, when implemented comprehensively, it can serve to dramatically heighten the awareness of individual employees on both a personal and interpersonal level.

Profiling employee emotional intelligence affords key decision makers a powerful insight into the manner in which an individual approaches the challenges of working life. In addition, it potentially provides HR and senior management with a clear and in-depth guide to supporting staff members with stress management strategies that are genuinely fit for purpose. It has the added value of being measurable and an excellent way to monitor and optimise individual performance.

So what is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is a quality that incorporates an individual’s ability to notice and regulate their own emotions, be aware of themselves in relationship with others, experience empathy, have strong social skills and high level of self-motivation.

There are myriad of practical strategies for managing stress, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), yoga, and mindfulness. While all of these can undoubtedly prove to be very beneficial to individuals, emotional intelligence training embraces the core aspects of a human being and is a strong predictor of someone’s innate ability to deal with setbacks and uncertainty.

Indeed, developing a high level of emotional intelligence is hugely beneficial for managing stress. Rather than being isolated, keeping thoughts and/or fears to oneself, reacting in anger toward others, and expecting people to behave differently, a developed emotional intelligence facilitates the ability to be more collaborative and reflective in order to effectively respond to the needs of the moment.