How to Solve Employee Retention With Emotional Intelligence

September 20, 2022

Finding and hiring the right people for the right roles is essential to the success of any business, but it’s not something that happens with the snap of a finger.

Hiring and onboarding a new team member is only the start of the process; HR managers and department heads now have to think about how to keep their employees happy, fulfilled, and engaged.

Talent Smart found that by using emotional intelligence (EI), managers can dramatically improve employee retention. EI can help management to develop stronger working relationships, to better predict job performance, and to create a workplace where team members feel valued and appreciated. 

What is Emotional Intelligence? 

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize your own emotions and those of other people. It’s also the ability to manage your reactions and understand and be mindful of how others around you are feeling.

People with high EI are able to stay calm under pressure, can lead by example, are empathic and compassionate, are able to lead by example, and can navigate difficult situations more easily than people with lower EI.

With this in mind, developing your EI and learning how to develop it in others is an essential leadership skill!

How Emotional Intelligence Affects Retention

A study from Harvard Business Review found that the main reason for employee turnover isn’t the organization: it’s management.

In most cases, employees are leaving their manager, not the organization.

Another striking finding HBR uncovered was that 35% of employees would give up a pay raise in order to see their boss fired.

How can you solve this problem? Start leading with emotional intelligence!

Ensuring that management is mindful of how leadership styles impact their teams creates positive workplaces that encourage productivity, fulfillment, and higher employee wellbeing.

EI is so important that a study from Initiative One found that employees are 400% less likely to leave their job if their manager has high emotional intelligence. 

This concept isn’t new: a 1999 study by McClellan showed that after a supervisor in a manufacturing plant received EI training, lost-time incidents decreased by 50% and grievances went from 15 a year, to just three per year.

How Managers Can Practice Emotional Intelligence

Understand Themselves and Their Emotions

The best managers take the time to understand their own emotions because they know it’s that understanding that leads to impactful leadership.

By taking the time to understand their emotional triggers and how they react to change, leaders in your organization can bring this knowledge to future challenges and lead with confidence and compassion.

Find the Right Moment

It’s important that managers consider the other person’s emotional state before addressing a challenge or having a discussion. 

Managers often feel the need to address an issue right away, but being aware of how team members feel is critical to achieving successful outcomes. 

For example, before jumping into a discussion or insisting on a meeting, managers should ask their team members if they have the time and attention to have a discussion. 

If the other person says they’re too busy or overwhelmed, the next step is to ask when they have time to chat, and schedule the discussion for a time that works for both parties.

Aligning Vision

The key to empowering and exciting employees is to “bring them in” on the company’s vision and make them feel seen, heard, and valued.

Managers need to take time to explain the goals of a project or pivot the company is making and ask for input from their team — both about the project itself, as well as how to achieve the most successful and effective outcome. 

Use a “Coach Approach”

Once managers have developed their EI, it’s time to start coaching their team members to develop theirs so everyone can be respectful and understanding of one another.

Managers need to spend time talking to their team members, both individually and as a group, to find out how their work, contributions, and job satisfaction contribute to their sense of wellbeing. 

Use Emotional Intelligence to Solve Retention Problems

The bottom line is this: when employees feel seen, heard, and valued, they’re less likely to leave and more likely to contribute even more effort to the company they work for.

By building your EI, learning how to assess and build it in others, and fostering an emotionally intelligent atmosphere in your organization, you can reduce employee turnover and make sure that the people you hire contribute in meaningful ways for years to come. 

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