Emotional Intelligence – an imperative soft skill in the workplace

The workplace is changing – and if we want to keep up with all the change, we are required to change along with it. This nudging of change will require us to not only add to our current set of skills, but to also work on the skills that were previously not considered to be vital in ensuring success in the workplace.

There was a time when an individual’s Intelligence Quotient, or IQ (a measure of cognitive ability and capacity to learn and understand), was the one measure used to determine if they would outperform other individuals. Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, however, is a different set of skills. Psychologists Savoy and Mayor define it as the capacity to monitor your own and other people’s feelings, the ability to discern between various emotions and knowing how to manage them appropriately”.

This is not a skill set reserved for managers or employers. Imagine a world where both managers and employees are emotionally intelligent… this would create a company culture that encourages team work and breaks down any of the barriers that might exist between “manager and direct report”. The workplace would then be a place people would want to be in, a place where they would want to explore their talents and grow holistically, even risking diverse opinions and new ideas.

Individuals with high emotional intelligence in the workplace are better equipped to handle stressful situations, they are able to handle pressure and can also hold off an emotional reaction in stressful conditions.

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is founded on the following core areas:

wage gap

Consider these facts published by Benjamin, B. (2019), Why Emotional Intelligence is a Critical Skill for Your Future Workforce:

  • The World Economic Forum ranked EI as the 6th more important skill for 2020 and beyond. It wasn’t even on the list on 2020!
  • McKinsey Group research states the need for soft skills will grow in every industry between now and 2030.
  • IHHP research has found that EI qualities account for 80% of what makes a leader exceptional.
  • Organizations like MetLife, IBM and UnitedHealth Group are investing heavily in developing the workforce of the future by teaching the skills of Emotional Intelligence.

The ability to solve complex problems and think on your feet are valuable attributes to have in the workplace but so is connecting with people and understanding the impact that we have on them. An EVP (Employee Value Proposition) in an organisation is all about the daily experience of work – not just the work, but how it feels to be there. Successful organisations have realised that it is important to cultivate an environment that will produce happy employees that also feel valued. Appealing to employees’ feelings and their senses encourages them to perform better and think innovatively, and it fosters loyalty to the organisation.

With the rise of 4IR that will change our world of work, what can set us apart from the machines … is being human.

Written by:


Didintle Kgasi
Reward Analyst
[email protected]