What Role Does Emotional Intelligence Play In A Healthy Company Culture?

August 28, 2019

While the literature on emotional intelligence, often called EQ, is prolific, a common misconception is “you either have it or you don’t.” This conception would lead you to believe that investing in EQ would be unwise; why teach something that can’t be learned? However, one study after another has confirmed that emotional intelligence can, in fact, be learned, and that organizations gain when they invest in the EQ of their leaders and employees. 

So, what is EQ anyway?

Emotional intelligence refers to one’s ability to recognize and manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of those around them.

When upset, an emotionally intelligent person has the ability to stop, consider differing viewpoints, recognize how he or she feels, question those feelings, and then behave with purpose and intention rather than impulse. When confronted by somebody else who is upset, the emotionally intelligent person has the ability to recognize and acknowledge that person’s feelings, see the situation from their perspective, and then behave in a helpful way rather than from a position of defense.

What role does emotional intelligence play in company culture?

The reach of emotional intelligence in the culture of your organization is far and wide. Here are just a few of the impacts that EQ has on your culture as a whole: 

  • Less drama. When employee can empathize with those around them – that is, understand how they feel and why they feel that way – they’re less likely to judge and vent, decreasing the likelihood of a toxic culture and promoting trust and collaboration. 
  • Better productivity. When employees give up on venting, one study conducted by thought leader Cy Wakeman predicts that they’ll save 2 hours and 45 minutes every single day. This time can be spent doing meaningful work and contributing to a busy, productive, positive culture.
  • Workplace friendships. Most organizations find it amazing how quickly enemies become friends when they simply take the time to listen, try to understand, and help – all skill sets encompassed by emotional intelligence. A quick search on workplace friendships can illustrate what an important component of culture they are. 
  • Innovation. Innovation and creativity are critical aspects of a positive company culture but are often stifled by the drama of every day work – the he said/she said, entitlement, and overall anger and frustration that can occur when each is out for himself and feeling entitled to act on impulse. By improving EQ, you can improve innovation and then subsequently, the whole culture of your organization.
  • Better health. Emotional intelligence is associated with a reduction in stress, anxiety, and anger. Employees who master their emotions at work feel better while they’re there and when they’re not, creating a culture conducive to health and wellness. 
  • Reduction in entitlement and company culture toxicity. Unfortunately, the result of workplace culture initiatives has led to a culture in which employers give and employees demand, characterized by a lack of personal accountability and high prevalence of entitlement…all of which breeds a toxic company culture. However, emotional intelligence works in direct opposition to entitlement by driving thoughtful consideration of feelings and attitudes. 

How to build EQ in our organization?

Organizations have taken a myriad of approaches to teach their employees emotional intelligence; in fact, you can promote EQ and support the professional development of your employees for little to nothing. Here are some ideas: 

  • give employees an hour a week to learn and improve themselves through journals, magazines, online articles, forums, and more
  • develop and teach an emotional intelligence course internally in small pieces – your education or HR department can help!
  • publish quotes, articles and insights in your employee newsletter or send out educational emails or internal messages (like on Slack, Hipchat or Microsoft Teams) once a week 
  • buy a few copies of a book or books that you found helpful and share with staff who are interested
  • bring in an I/O psychologist, speaker, HR consultant, or trainer to deliver training on the topic
  • organize short and enjoyable team building exercises in the office that help enforce EQ in a way that doesn’t feel like a chore

Every organization’s workplace culture has its own level of shared emotional intelligence, with some team members carrying more of it than others. To cultivate a healthy company culture of productivity and supportiveness, think about whether you have gaps in EQ among your team members and, if so, make it your priority to work on it sooner than later.


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Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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