How Emotional Intelligence Is Changing the Workplace

When was the last time you took an IQ test? How’d you do? Be honest. Did your score reflect the mind of a genius, or maybe just an average Joe? For years people have put a lot of credence into IQ scores. In fact, it’s common for companies and universities to use IQ scores to measure potential candidates.

Of course, IQ is important, especially when you’re looking for the brightest people to add to your organization. But these days, IQ isn’t the only intelligence that matters. Emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), is becoming continually important in the workplace. In fact, many companies value EQ even more than IQ.

“Fifty-nine percent of employers would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low EQ. For workers being considered for a promotion, the high EQ candidate will beat out the high IQ candidate in most cases – 75 percent said they’re more likely to promote the high EQ worker.”


What Is Emotional Intelligence?

It’s clear companies hold emotional intelligence in high regard. But what is emotional intelligence and why is it so important? Why would organizations place such a high value on “touchy-feely” kinds of things over pure intellectual intelligence?

In its simplest form, emotional intelligence is the capacity, or ability to be aware of one’s emotions and to be able to control them. To have emotional intelligence is to be able to deal with interpersonal relationships and handle them with empathy and understanding.

It means you’re not only able to recognize your own emotions, but also others’ emotions. And when you do that, you discern between these different emotions or feelings and use this information to guide your actions. People with high levels of emotional intelligence are often some of the happiest people you’ll meet.

Have you ever wondered why that one guy in your office is ALWAYS cheerful? It doesn’t matter what happens or what tasks he has – even if he has to clean up after the wild office party – he’s always smiling and pleasant with everyone. Here’s a hint: it’s not because he just won the lottery. More than likely, it’s because he has a high EQ.

And that’s exactly why organizations are placing such a high value on emotional intelligence.

The Positive Influence of Emotional Intelligence

Who do you want to spend your time with? You only have so much time in your day – 24 hours last I checked – and you can choose to spend it how you’d like, or with whom you’d like. We all have to work, so that means we spend a large portion of our day with our co-workers. Now think about it.

Would you rather spend your time with an emotionally intelligent person or a toxic individual? It’s a no-brainer. People with high emotional intelligence add so much more to the work environment than people who have a low EQ. And that’s how emotional intelligence is changing the workplace, as we know it.

The Effects of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

In fact, the workplace has changed a lot in the last five to ten years. Of course, it’s constantly changing. Sometimes things happen so fast it feels like you have to change course at work as often as you’d change a baby’s diaper. But change is a part of work and life. And you can definitely add emotional intelligence as one of the big reasons things are moving in their current direction.

Hiring and Promotions

So how is EQ changing the workplace specifically? It starts with personnel. Hiring managers are now looking for people with high EQ more than ever. They’re looking for people who can play nice with others, solve conflicts within workplace relationships, effectively handle work-related stress, and learn from their interpersonal mistakes.

If a hiring manager doesn’t think you’ll fit well into the company culture, he or she most likely won’t hire you. The same goes for promotions. Fewer people with low EQ are being promoted to positions of leadership.


And speaking of leadership, this is another big change in the workplace affected by emotional intelligence. People look at leadership much differently in today’s work environment. It’s not enough just to get results anymore. These days’ employees want to work for leaders that demonstrate true emotional intelligence.

That means companies are looking for more of these types of leaders. They know good talent will stick around when paired with good leaders.According to, good leaders are expected to be self-aware.

Effective leaders also seek to understand their team members and they know how to connect emotionally with them. They genuinely share in their joys and display real empathy for their concerns.

Leaders with high EQ are expected to be able to self-regulate, motivate and demonstrate social skills and empathy. That’s a lot to ask. But if you want to fit into today’s changing workplace, that’s what’s expected, especially if you want to be a leader. And the fact is, leaders are looking for employees with the same qualities and abilities.

It’s true. Not every job in every industry requires people to have EQ, but many do, especially leadership positions.

Work Culture

Emotional intelligence is also changing the entire notion of work culture. Work used to be a place you went to clock in, do your job, clock out, and then go home. Employers expected you to complete your assigned tasks and not ask for much in return, other than your paycheck. If you think that’s how work should always be, then it’s time for a wake-up call.

Employees today expect so much more. They don’t just want to have a job. They want to work in an environment that lifts them and stimulates them. They want to feel needed and they want to feel like they’re part of a family. Employees don’t want to play games. They want to be themselves. And they want their leaders and supervisors to know who they are, not just as employees, but also as people.


Emotional intelligence has changed how companies view and judge productivity, as well. Productivity used to be measured only by results; in other words, the bottom-line. Of course, the bottom line will always matter in business. But organizations are now seeing productivity differently, with a greater perspective.

Companies see more than just results. When employees are happy and emotionally healthy, naturally that leads to better productivity. When a work environment and culture is warm, inviting, positive, and respectful, that equals productivity. Employees who feel valued, understood, appreciated and essentially loved, will be the most productive.

And productivity is measured by employee growth as well as employee satisfaction. Your bottom line is great, but if no one enjoys coming to work, how productive can you really be?

Time to Get Your EQ Up

If you’re still just focused on your IQ score, then it’s time to wake up and smell what’s brewing. A new movement is sweeping the work world and it’s called emotional intelligence. And ready or not, it’s time to get on board.

And honestly, why wouldn’t you want to? Studies have shown that people with high EQ have greater job performance, better leadership skills, and overall improved mental health. Now those are “scores” anyone could live with.