Why EQ matters in HR?



“Emotional Intelligence is when you finally realize it’s not all about you” – Peter Stark. In this era of 21st century, where organizations have been rapidly growing and are in constant competitive space to establish themselves in the market, the mental agility of the employees in these organizations often gets ignored. The productivity of any employee is largely affected if he/she is not operating in the right emotional state. This is where, knowing and understanding the term Emotional Quotient becomes imperative in today’s rapidly changing environment. In Layman terms, an emotion is a feeling just as happiness, anger, fear or hatred, caused by situation that we are in or the people we are with. So, what exactly is Emotional Quotient? Emotional Quotient (EQ) is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions effectively.  Emotional Quotient, which is also referred as Emotional Intelligence, is not just whether someone is emotional or not, but it is rather how well they handle their interpersonal skills and emotions of others. As per the Mckinsey’s Report, till 2030, it has been predicted that the demand for the social and emotional skills will grow across industries by 26 percent in United States and by 22 percent in Europe [1]. According to the study by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer, there are four levels which are included in emotional intelligence. These four levels include perceiving emotions, understanding emotions, reasoning emotions and managing emotions. An individual who is able to navigate through all these emotional levels indicate him/her with high emotional intelligence.


  Managing EQ Attributes at Workplace

The four major attributes of EQ are – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Let us now see how these factors play a vital role in HR.


  • With self-awareness, an individual could identify how the emotions impact their behaviors and thoughts.  This can greatly affect workplaces by allowing employees to identify their strengths and weaknesses, thus building their self-confidence.
  • HR managers can promote self-management at workplace through periodic reviews and regular feedbacks.
  • For example, an employee who lacks in any specific area could receive positive reinforcement from his or her direct supervisor. Meanwhile, this employee can respond well to advice and words of encouragement regarding that particular task.



  • Controlling feelings and impulses is one of the critical factors at workplace.
  • Adaptability can make difference for HR supervisors. If these managers encourage workers to take the time necessary to manage emotions throughout the day, they can maintain a healthy and productive environment.
  • Offering the employees simple tips such as taking a 15-minutes break or arranging a meet with a workplace counsellor can be extremely valuable for the employees.


        Social Awareness

  • The individuals who can understand social factors of others and feel comfortable in groups possess considerable amount of social awareness.
  • HR managers can promote social awareness in many ways. For Example: The HR professional who sets up employee workshops might help the employees develop social awareness. Employees can be given some common situations in the workshops, and this may help them to develop a comfort level with the given scenarios as well as with their subordinates.  


            Relationship Management

  • Most relationships have ups and downs, and human resource professionals can encourage communication among employees and supervisors in order to improve this.
  • In an open workplace environment, there will be minimal communication limits. An employee will feel comfortable approaching his or her supervisor about any topic, which could allow them to feel valuable to the organization. This employee might turn more productive in the long run, as he or she knows, that the doors of communication are always open with anyone there.


  Industry Use Case – FedEx Express

FedEx Express is the world largest cargo airlines moving seven million packages each day with 600 flights and has around 290,000 working employees. Although the focus of Fred Smith, who is founder of the company, was on logistics and speed, he always believed that people were the key to business and leadership is always a continuous growth. FedEx Express management decided to increase the emotional intelligence focus of the leadership training and created a new program called LEAD1 in order to put EQ at the frontlines. In an extremely fast paced environment, managers were very often losing the sight of relational dynamics that affected the team performance. The new manager here was supposed to identify specific competencies to improve and observe how would it affect people-leadership.


  • LEAD 1 trained managers started showing increased ability to adopt to the “People First” leadership philosophy.
  • Following graph shows the improvements in targeted cohorts within the managers of FedEx Express.


Image Source:

Figure 1: EQ Programme Implementation Results at FedEx Express

  • 72% of the participants did show improvements in decision making and 58% of the participants showed large improvements in influence.

In this way, FedEx Express successfully implemented LEAD 1 programme in order to uplift the Emotional Quotient within the managers.


  1.   Future Scope – A Brief Outlook of Post-Covid Scenario

According to a survey by six seconds organization, which works on Emotional Intelligence Network, the following graphs reveals that, the global emotional trend looked good from 2017 to 2019, but drastically dropped in 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Image Source:Figure 2: Graph displaying the EI Trend

Post Covid-19, companies will be effectively using the lens of EI while making key decisions while hiring, performance and talent management. Following are the ways in which HR managers can focus on building the EQ in their organizations.

  1. Hiring prospective candidates with high EQ
  2. Having meaningful conversations for Performance Management
  3. Providing EI through training and development
  4.  Acting as the retention lever through Employee Management
  5. Caring about mental health of employees



As Sheri L. Dew, a renowned author and the executive vice-president of Deseret Management Corporation, rightly quotes, ‘True Leaders understand that leadership is not about them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves, but lifting others up’. Leaders in the organizations, must inculcate the value of understanding their employees and when it comes to human resource management, emotional quotient acts as the most important ingredient in driving employee needs. HR managers have to take large number of decisions on day-to-day basis, in which some are based on their own opinions, some are taken with the employee’s perspective while some are based combining both projecting the long term scenarios and targets. Thus, having the EQ skillsets has become one the of significant pre-requisites for leaders to collaborate effectively, build strong relationships and make the organizations an effective place to work.


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