If you believe what employers say, emotional intelligence (EQ) is one of the qualities they value most in a staff member. What’s more, the rise of automation and robots taking over many of the more mundane tasks that people do today means that organizations’ demand for EQ is only likely to increase further in future.
In fact, according to research by the World Economic Forum, EQ will be the sixth-most important skill required of employees by 2020, only a little way behind complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. In contrast, the sixth-most sought-after skill in 2015 was quality control.
Yet, rather oddly, the fact that employers rate EQ doesn’t seem to be reflected in their hiring processes. New research by recruiter Robert Half U.K. reveals that while 60% of businesses say that EQ is a very important skill for their employees to have, one in four (25%) admit that it is undervalued in the hiring process.
The study identified how organizations can benefit from hiring employees with a high level of EQ. Business leaders cited increased motivation and morale (46%), improved leadership (45%) and better collaboration between teams (37%) as the primary benefits. Furthermore, a tiny 4% of U.K. businesses say that a high EQ offers no additional benefits to the business at all.
Although the advantages of bringing more EQ into an organization are clear, it seems that there is still a tendency for managers to focus on technical skills and experience during the hiring process, while attaching too little importance to emotional intelligence. Over half of managers (54%) said that they place ‘just enough’ importance on EQ but more could be done in this respect.
Commenting on the findings of the research, Matt Weston, U.K. managing director at Robert Half, said: “Identifying skills gaps and securing the right talent is crucial for long-term success in today’s competitive recruitment environment. In the current war for talent, employers must find the right balance between skills and personality – evaluating what characteristics are required within the team and what skills can be taught.”
Weston believes that in the workplace of the future, employees will value their fit within an organization and be even more inclined than they are today to assess a company’s culture, working environment and employer brand before accepting a job. As a result, business leaders need to be “aware and mindful” of their employees’ needs and desires if they are to effectively expand their candidate pool and identify, secure and retain top talent in the long term.