Emotional Intelligence As a Success Factor: How HR Professionals Can Create an Inclusive Company Culture

7 Dec ‘23
5 min
Work performance
Editorial Board OpenUp
Reviewed by psychologist Willemijn Pels Rijcken
Hybrid work models have become crucial in the aftermath of the pandemic. This shift has significantly altered the responsibilities of managers, requiring them to adjust their leadership approaches to effectively guide teams remotely. The pivotal role of emotional intelligence in this context cannot be overstated. Despite its significance, bestselling author Dr. Travis Bradberry notes that only 36% of individuals possess this valuable trait.


In this article, we will delve into the importance of emotional intelligence and empathy in the workplace. We explore how these qualities impact company culture and offer insights for HR professionals on fostering these attributes to cultivate an inclusive organisational culture.

Emotional intelligence: definition and importance 


Before delving into the subject, let’s clarify the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) and how you can identity your own EQ abilities.


Willemijn Pels Rijcken, a psychologist at OpenUp, provides insight:


“Emotional intelligence involves the ability to recognise, manage and effectively use your own emotions and to recognise and understand the emotions of others.”


“Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. You could say that empathy is a part of emotional intelligence or an example of emotional intelligence.”


According to the Harvard Business School, emotional intelligence consists of these four components:


  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-management
  3. Social awareness
  4. Relationship management


The core of emotional intelligence lies in the first aspect: self-awareness. Self-awareness extends beyond recognising personal strengths and weaknesses; it involves being attuned to one’s own emotions and their impact on the team.


Moving to the second aspect, self-management involves handling and controlling these emotions effectively. Components three and four revolve around understanding the emotions of others. Within the workplace, social awareness entails perceiving the emotions of others and being cognisant of organisational dynamics. This is where empathy becomes crucial, enabling leaders to comprehend the feelings and perspectives of team members, which enhances effective communication. 


The last component, relationship management, deals with the proficiency to influence others positively, such as providing coaching, and addressing conflicts before escalation. 


The positive influence of emotional intelligence on company culture


In the upcoming section, we’ll explore how this quality significantly influences overall corporate culture.


“Possessing or cultivating emotional intelligence and being mindful of it contributes to fostering a more positive and thriving company culture,” notes psychologist Willemijn Pels Rijcken. “It enhances communication, collaboration, and overall team dynamics. By recognizing your own needs, you not only meet them but also nurture and safeguard them simultaneously,” she explains.


The relevance of emotional intelligence extends to both managers and employees. “Managers with high emotional intelligence can establish a supportive and motivating environment, fostering not only greater enjoyment and satisfaction at work but also higher productivity,” adds Willemijn. 


Moreover, a robust EQ also impacts personal resilience. “Individuals with emotional intelligence exhibit increased resilience when facing change or unexpectedly challenging events,” highlights Willemijn. 


📚 Read more: How you can respond to the needs of your employees with a person-centred corporate culture

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Diversity, inclusion and emotional intelligence: how are these terms related?


Elevated emotional intelligence not only shapes a positive and robust corporate culture but also contributes significantly to an inclusive environment. “Empathy plays a crucial role in comprehending and valuing individuals from diverse backgrounds. This fosters an inclusive culture that acknowledges the uniqueness of each person,” emphasises Willemijn.


“Proficiency in a diverse range of communication skills aids in recognising both verbal and non-verbal cues, understanding various communication styles, and navigating cross-cultural methods of communication,” she adds.


This comprehensive approach serves to mitigate misunderstandings and ensures that others feel acknowledged and understood. “Diverse workforces come with diverse opinions and perspectives, so it’s essential to be able to adapt, remain open to alternative viewpoints, and address conflicts should they arise.”


💡 Read more: How to Create Psychological Safety at Work as a Manager


Emotional intelligence tips for HR professionals 


On a scale of importance, where would you place emotional intelligence within your company? Despite its significance, encouraging it within the organisation can be challenging. Let’s explore ideas and tips from psychologist Willemijn Pels Rijcken that you can integrate into your orgianisation:

  • Organise workshops or programmes: Take the initiative to encourage the development of qualities such as empathy and organise workshops on self-awareness, empathy, effective communication skills or conflict resolution.


  • Encourage regular feedback or performance evaluations: This could be a good time to include aspects of emotional intelligence and reflect together on what concrete steps can be taken to develop skills.


  • Encourage employees to express their emotions openly: This should be part of the corporate culture and contributes to a better understanding of the emotions of others.

How OpenUp can help you create an inclusive corporate culture


OpenUp not only offers one-to-one sessions with psychologists and lifestyle experts, but also masterclasses, group sessions, meditations and online courses – putting the mental well-being of your employees at the forefront. Find out how OpenUp can support your organisation.

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