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Employee Hiring, Development, and Retention

Why Does Emotional Intelligence Matter at Work?

Mike Poskey | April 17, 2020

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Young woman holding a we are hiring sign

Emotional intelligence, also known as the emotional intelligence quotient (EIQ), is defined as recognizing, understanding, and managing one's emotions and the influence those emotions have on others. Why should we care if our employees understand their emotions on the job?

To put it directly, the single reason why one employee is a higher performer than the other can all boil down to their emotional intelligence.

Three Key Reasons Emotional Intelligence Matters at Work

  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Results and outcomes

All three of these elements play a major role in the success or failure of your team, ultimately affecting your bottom line. To get the results and outcomes you want, you need to hire for communication and trust.


Communication is a key component in relationship building, both positive and negative relationships. Employees and managers with high emotional intelligence are better able to connect and build relationships with their coworkers, clients, and leaders. They can see the uniqueness in people and are aware of how their actions and words affect those around them. Employees with low emotional intelligence have little awareness of how they affect those around them, which leads to poor or no communication and usually damages any chance of a relationship.


The first step in any relationship is communication. As those channels are developed, trust is built, whereas, in the case of poor communication, trust is damaged. If your team can not trust each other or the people they work for, little progress is made. The lack of trust will result in low employee engagement and satisfaction rates, eventually leading to turnover.

Results and Outcomes

Communication and trust are behaviors that commonly lead to positive results and outcomes. Although it seems straightforward enough, all it takes is one bad hire to undo all the hard work you've put into building a team based on a foundation of trust and communication. It takes a commitment from the entire leadership team to hold everyone accountable and consistently hire to these core competencies.

Behaviors Lead to Results and Outcomes

Let's discuss the case of a client we recently worked with. Although the company had a hiring process in place, a series of events took place where trust and communication were broken. While the human resources (HR) team was trying to recruit and fill an open position, the hiring manager decided to break process and hired someone without communicating with HR.

Meanwhile, the HR team had begun to interview candidates for the role. Once they found someone they were ready to hire, they discovered the role had already been filled and had to contact the candidate and explain the situation. The result was a very negative outcome. Not only did this lack of communication break trust between the HR team and the hiring manager, but it also created inefficiencies and resulted in bad brand exposure for the company. All of this could have been avoided simply by communicating.

How to Hire for Emotional Intelligence

If you want to hire for communication and trust, you need to infuse EIQ into your culture. The easiest way to do this is to determine which competencies are important to the culture you want to build and then consistently hire to those competencies.

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