Last updated: 21.04.23

How to Develop More Emotionally Intelligent Employees in 2023

In the UK, 97% of employers say that soft skills and emotional intelligence are key to business growth and success. However, despite this, UK businesses are losing £22bn a year by not investing in soft skills – a number no organisation wants to see impacting their bottom line.

In an age where 99% of employees think that emotional intelligence is a must-have skill, and fewer than 42% of organisations offer training in it, businesses that recognise the value of emotional intelligence and soft skills training could find themselves at a significant competitive advantage.

In this blog, we will discuss what emotional intelligence is, how it can benefit your organisation, and practical tips for how to develop more emotionally intelligent employees in 2023.

What is emotional intelligence and how can it be used in the workplace?

Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as the ability to manage not only your own emotions but also the emotions of others. This includes three separate skills:

  • Identifying and naming emotions
  • Applying emotions to problem solving when necessary
  • Regulating your own emotions and knowing when to help regulate the emotions of others

These skills can be of use in every industry, and can improve your workplace environment exponentially. In fact, emotional intelligence in the workplace is one of a number of many soft skills that help make employees better at, and more satisfied in, their job roles.

However, you may be wondering what emotional intelligence in the workplace looks like. Examples of emotional intelligence in the workplace include:

  • Constructive feedback instead of personal criticism.
  • Challenging behaviours, not people.
  • Supporting colleagues through recognising their emotions and working to reduce stress.
  • Keeping calm and productive under pressure.
  • Helping to resolve conflicts that arise between team members.
  • Creating a workplace where people are free to express themselves openly.

The benefits of emotional intelligence and soft skills in the workplace

The benefits of developing more emotionally intelligent employees shouldn’t be underestimated. While the value of these soft skills is almost universally acknowledged by employers, very few take the time to develop these skills among their workforce, with less than 20% of businesses being considered emotionally intelligent.

These statistics suggest that soft skills and emotional intelligence can be overlooked in the workplace, but studies show that the benefits of these skills can be invaluable to both your employees and your business:

The benefits of emotional intelligence and soft skills development for your business

Businesses with emotionally intelligent employees experience:

  • Higher productivity - One study found that after a Motorola manufacturing facility provided training in stress management and emotional intelligence, 93% of employees had an increase in productivity.
  • Lower employee turnover - Employees who believe that their leaders treat them with respect are 55% more engaged, 63% more satisfied, and 58% more focused on their jobs.
  • Higher tolerance for risk - 64% of emotionally intelligent organisations have a higher tolerance for risk than other organisations.
  • Stronger customer loyalty and advocacy - Emotionally intelligent organisations report stronger customer experiences than those who lack the same skills. This leads to stronger customer loyalty and retention, which not only improves brand perception, but also increases your business’ bottom line.

The benefits of emotional intelligence and soft skills development for your employees

Emotional intelligence and the development of other soft skills can also directly benefit your staff. Research shows that emotionally intelligent employees:

  • Are top performers - 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence, with 58% of job success being based on soft skills.
  • Achieve more professional success - A study found that social and emotional abilities are 4x more important than IQ in determining professional success and prestige.
  • Can earn more - People with well-developed emotional intelligence can earn up to nearly £24k more per year than those without.
  • Have more successful interpersonal relationships - Evidence shows that employees equipped with soft skills such as emotional intelligence build stronger relationships with their coworkers, increasing operational efficiency.
  • Are more flexible - Highly emotionally intelligent employees can respond to change effectively and efficiently.
  • Remain calm and productive under pressure - 71% of employers value emotional intelligence over IQ, reporting that employees with high emotional intelligence are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively, and respond to co-workers with empathy.

How HR Managers and Training Managers can develop emotional intelligence and soft skills training for employees

Emotional intelligence and other soft skills can be difficult to measure and challenging to teach. However, developing effective training in these areas can and has been achieved by a range of organisations.

To ensure your emotional intelligence and soft skills training is a success, consider these steps:

1. Get buy in from the top

When it comes to implementing any kind of workplace training, buy-in from stakeholders in all levels of your business is essential. To achieve this, you need to start from the top.

Soft skills and emotional intelligence are often undervalued within organisations, so to ensure your business leaders are bought into the programme, you must first convince them why emotionally intelligent employees make the best employees.

To achieve this, provide them with stats on the benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace, and clearly lay out your plan for success.

2. Choose a training package

There are a number of training packages available designed to teach emotional intelligence and other soft skills in the workplace. Most commonly, HR and training managers will choose online courses for the development of these skills, as they allow colleagues to learn at their own pace, are cost-effective, and can be accessed anywhere, any time.

Whatever style of course you choose, many training managers find benefit in enhancing their training with social learning strategies, which can improve information retention by up to 50%. Strategies you could consider include:

  • Developing team-building activities that foster empathy and promote better understanding of others.
  • Suggesting books, podcasts or TED talks on emotional intelligence for employees to engage with and discuss.
  • Set up groups or channels where those undergoing your emotional intelligence training can reflect, ask questions and share perspectives.

3. Evaluate your training

In many cases, the impact of your emotional intelligence training will be evident as soon as you enter the workplace. However, to demonstrate this success to key stakeholders within your business, you may need a more scientific way to measure your course’s success.

With digital soft skills and emotional intelligence courses, like those mentioned above, evaluating the success of your training is simple. Often, these courses will provide you with up-to-date reports on how your employees are progressing through the training, and will require participants to complete assessment questions once they reach the end of the course material. This will allow you to easily quantify the success of your training.

However, if your chosen taught or online course does not offer these reporting methods, you can still measure the success of your training using an online emotional intelligence test, such as this one from The Personality Lab.

Top tips for implementing effective emotional intelligence and soft skills training

Once you have won stakeholder buy-in and developed your emotional intelligence programme, you may be eager to dive straight in and begin your training.

However, emotional intelligence and soft skills can be taught much more effectively if you consider these top tips:

Identify team strengths and and areas for improvement

While training managers often remember to test individuals on their competence levels before embarking on any kind of training, very few remember to look at this in the context of wider teams.

The employees within your business will all have very different roles, stresses and emotional responses to their jobs. This can affect how they perform and interact in the workplace, which can also have an impact on their teams and wider stakeholders.

Emotional intelligence and personality profiles can help you establish what personalities and levels of emotional intelligence exist within each of your job functions. Establishing this can not only be a great team building exercise, but will help members within teams learn more about each other and how to respond to one another in the workplace.

When used to its full potential, this information can also be leveraged to adapt your training for each individual, improving engagement and enhancing learning.

Define workplace guidelines

Every workplace has rules, guidelines, or a formal code of conduct, defining what leadership expects of employees and how they should behave.

Staff emotional intelligence should be a significant consideration when determining guidelines and defining how employees are assigned tasks, communicate with one another, and receive feedback.

The guidelines you implement can go a long way to improving emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Without clear rules in place, poor habits can creep in, increasing the likelihood of poorly managed emotions in the workplace.

Utilise employee feedback

No employees are more engaged than those who feel listened to. Show your employees you value their opinions by asking for, and responding to, feedback. Whether it be on a recent change within the business, or ideas on what they think could be improved, let them know the door is always open. This can help employees feel more connected to your organisation and help improve emotional intelligence by:

  • Improving communication skills
  • Helping leadership become aware if any emotional intelligence issues arise
  • Providing an outlet for negative emotions so they do not fester and create more significant problems

Listening to any frustration or apprehension your employees might have, offering support, and letting them know it is ok for them to have those feelings are great ways to foster emotional wellbeing and improve emotional intelligence within your organisation.

Stress management

Despite any efforts to minimise workplace stress, it will often arise in almost every job. But rather than trying to eliminate an inevitable problem, providing employees with the appropriate mechanisms and support systems to dissipate stress can help you foster an emotionally intelligent culture within your business.

By investing in team wellbeing and training staff in emotional intelligence skills, you can help employees avoid burnout and improve job performance in even the most trying of times.

Managers should understand that the stress their employees are under is a vital component in employees’ job performance, and can have a significant impact on your business. This means being aware of growing workloads, significant deadlines and personal factors that may compound workplace stress.

Whenever possible, it should be a business priority to alleviate the pressure when a member of staff is burdened by stress. This could mean reducing their workload, offering company-wide “wellness” days, providing time off in times of stress, or introducing other company initiatives that can help employees better cope with high stress situations.

Provide routine and fact-based feedback

Creating an emotionally intelligent workplace culture is a challenge. But a key component to overcoming those challenges is through the implementation of routine and fact-based feedback.

Feedback, whether it be positive or negative, is a great tool for helping employees develop. However, for it to be effective, everyone in your organisation requires the emotional intelligence to give and receive feedback honestly, without judging the individuals involved.

Teach employees and managers to provide regular feedback based on facts to their colleagues. This means finding the right time to provide feedback, delivering it respectfully, and offering suggestions for improvement to help everyone improve without feeling attacked or personally criticised.

The importance of emotional intelligence and soft skills in the workplace

Research from Harvard University found that 85% of career success comes from soft skills, people skills and emotional intelligence. Hard skills, including technical skills and knowledge, make up just 15%.

These statistics are hard to ignore, and show that businesses who fail to recognise the importance of soft skills training could suffer from high staff turnover, lower productivity and higher workplace stress. However, those who harness soft skills and create an emotionally intelligent workplace can benefit from faster business growth and greater operational efficiency.

Why Virtual College?

With 27 years’ experience providing high-quality workplace training delivered online on-demand through our simple and intuitive learning management system. With over 300 online courses to choose from including emotional intelligence and soft skills.

Speak to our team today to find out how we can help you develop more emotionally intelligent employees in 2023.