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Emotional intelligence to have upper hand in post-COVID-19 recruitment
June 18, 2020

Hiring managers will need to start promoting and recruiting workers for their emotional intelligence, not just technical ability, as we move towards a post-coronavirus culture.

This is according to Professor Cary Cooper, who spoke during day two of the CIPD’s Festival of Work on the growing importance of a strong wellbeing structure within organisations. 

“The more we have people with EQ [emotional quotient], the more we can identify when people are feeling low and can listen and bring teams together, he said. “The challenge is how to train its existing cohort in this and not just promote people on just technical skills.” 

Cooper said organisations in the past had never confronted the issue of poor emotional skills in managers but predicts this is beginning to change.

He said: “The workplace will be different as we will be working substantially more from home so we need more ‘EQed’ line managers. There will be lots of issues we need to face and we will finally get at the productivity issue more than we have before.

“Pre-crisis, wellbeing was beginning to be strategic, and I now suspect this will be a board issue from now on in most companies.”

Wellbeing was a major theme across the entire day of the conference, with many speakers detailing the importance of focusing on employee welfare during the coronavirus crisis and its link to overall health. 

Economist Lord Gus O’Donnell said employers need to be wary of the workers most affected by the fallout from coronavirus. 

He said: “Young, female and low income groups have been hit very badly by the crisis [in terms of unemployment]. We also need to be very careful when we use the term BAME as different things are happening to different ethnicities. 

“A lot of the differences can be explained by income and class. Young groups are suffering because they are much more likely to be in sectors that have closed down. People who are furloughed have an average income of £320 per week. The crisis is exacerbating inequalities.” 

O’Donnell was also concerned that despite its benefits, remote working had led to feelings of isolation. 

He said: “A lot of people are saying they like the social aspect of work. People will spend more time at home than before, but I think they will still want their social connections.” 

Cooper agreed, yet acknowledged the economic pressure businesses will be under and the potential to reduce office space to cut costs. 

He said: “We are not entering a recession but a depression. This will mean employers have to save money, and they can do this by reducing office space and travel costs. We will all need a central office environment but still work substantially from home, maybe not exclusively.” 

Properly understanding your workforce was also highlighted as a key wellbeing strategy.

Speaking during the panel session, Dame Carol Black, chair of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Often companies don’t do enough detailed work. They want to do the right thing but don’t have granular enough data on their workforce. They don’t know in detail how much of their workforce has financial problems etc. 

“The more granular the detail…the better. You then use resources to put in targeted interventions.” 

All of this, Cooper concluded, contributes to a need for more emotionally intelligent leaders.

Emotional Intelligence – the New Skills Gap
February 24, 2020

By Nick Kirk – Managing Director at Michael Page.

Employers want to hire people with emotional intelligence skills but candidates aren’t listing them on applications

There has been a lot of buzz recently around emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ. Back in 2016 the World Economic Forum named emotional intelligence as one of the most important workplace skills needed for success in 2020.

Emotional intelligence is being aware of one’s own emotions and being able to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy.

However, recent research by Michael Page has uncovered a worrying new trend in the UK jobs market: an emotional intelligence skills gap.

The key finding of our study shows that there is a clear disconnect between the skills employers want and those jobseekers are displaying when it comes to emotional intelligence.

Half of the employers surveyed cited emotional intelligence as increasingly important for those entering today’s workforce, ranking it higher than work experience or even holding a degree. However, this is rarely mentioned in candidates’ applications.

Despite emphasis being placed on emotional intelligence by those in hiring positions, just 0.4% of PageGroup applicants over the last year reference empathy in their CV – a key tenet of emotional intelligence – while just 0.81% mention listening as one of their skills.

Emotional intelligence skills are consistently being ranked higher than more traditional skills such as foreign languages or financial acumen.

Essentially emotional intelligence in the workplace comes down to understanding, expressing, managing good relationships and solving problems under pressure.

Our capacity for emotional intelligence is one of the most obvious ways humans have the edge over technological counterparts. What is worrying is that candidates are not highlighting these skills to potential employers, despite clear demand for them.

To help address this I urge companies to look at jobseekers who have clearly evaluated their skillset and highlighted the most valuable ones.

Introducing EQ into the recruitment and assessment process will help to identify the candidates with the right attitude and mindset to work well with colleagues, be advocates of change, and deliver against your organisation’s objectives.

For instance, self-awareness is key to emotional intelligence. Employees who spend time observing and reflecting on their emotional responses to different situations, and who pay attention to their physical reactions, can have a great impact on company culture.

Active listening skills and motivation are also two invaluable traits of EQ. People who possess them understand issues from different perspectives, demonstrate optimism and a desire to build valuable relationships with others, and continually improve their skillset.

However, just as it is important to seek new hires with emotional intelligence, it is vital for managers and other business leaders to operate in emotionally intelligent ways to meet the needs of today’s workers.

Stress can trigger irrational behaviour that is often attributed to low emotional intelligence. Consider the best way to reduce the stress levels within your business – whether that’s allowing employees to take a break from their desks, listen to music, or go for a walk.

Much as people would regularly exercise to stay in shape physically, they need to regularly work on their emotional intelligence skills so that they improve.

Investing in emotional intelligence will result in more engaged, committed employees who will help to move your business forward.

We need to ensure the potential emotional intelligence skills gap in the country is addressed before it becomes a major business issue.

Business leaders should focus on driving change from within their own organisations so employees can follow their example. As the importance of emotional intelligence becomes widely recognised, I hope we will see jobseekers adapt their applications to reflect the behaviour demonstrated by businesses – with both putting EQ high on their list of priorities.

8 Psychology-Backed TED Talks That’ll Help You Understand Why You Do What You Do
February 25, 2019
8 TED Talks to Understand Your Co-workers and You