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Guest Blog - EQ and The Future Of Work

Advance Systems - header.pngMost US companies now understand that EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is a critical factor for both employee and company success.

Data indicates to us that both companies and employees are more successful when employees understand each other and work well together.

Managers who motivate are much more successful than the infamous “managers from hell” mentality,that was common until recently.

Emotional Intelligence became a household word in 1995 when Daniel Goleman’s book, “Emotional Intelligence” became famous in professional and academic circles.

Goleman focused on five primary areas that he considered “critical” for company and employee success: Motivation, Self-Awareness, Empathy, Social Skills and Self-Regulation. These skills remain absolute today and both employees and potential employees are often routinely evaluated for their Emotional Intelligence levels. The tests are proven to help companies evaluate employees who are “outstanding” as compared to “average”. These tests are now considered commonplace when evaluating and measuring employee leadership abilities.

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As companies focus more on EQ instead of IQ (Intelligence), employees often are confused because they have always been taught that intelligence is critical to career success. Now, they are being told that both EQ and IQ are critical, but generally, IQ is about 10-25% of success and the remainder is mostly EQ. In fact, a recent study of Harvard graduates in business, law, medicine, and teaching indicated that IQ “showed a negative or zero correlation between an IQ indicator (entrance exams) and subsequent career success.”

Employers tend to listen carefully to current business change, and Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, receives a lot of press.  As anticipated, many companies now understand and value employee testing for EQ and believe that the tests separate their ”outstanding from average performers.”

Companies, particularly tech companies, realize that EQ predicts job performance.  These companies are strong advocates of promoting those with high levels of EQ since it is well known that high EQs results in superior workers and leaders. Since elevated EQ level employees tend to motivate and encourage others, they are a sure fit for leadership.

EQ Tests

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EQ research is helping more companies utilize psychometric and EQ tests for both new employees and prospective hires. The tests define a human being’s ” mental wiring” which allows companies to correctly place them in positions where they will likely be very successful.

As EQ tests grow in popularity, companies are coming forward to declare the tests as “cost-savers” because they save money, time, productivity and employee morale, which is particularly critical when an employee is not the right ”fit” for an organization.

EQ tests are now standard and are likely here ”to stay.”  Experts agree that approximately 90% of companies will use EQ testing for all potential employees, particularly executives.

Approximately 82% of global companies now utilize these tests for executive positions; 72% of these companies give the tests to middle management and only 59% of companies give the tests to entry-level positions.  Clearly, the higher the job level, the more likely a test will be given.

Why are companies focused on EQ tests, especially senior-level positions? Companies utilize EQ tests to determine the three most critical elements of job success: competence, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. History and research suggest that these three elements are more important to job success than job experience or education. Job candidates tend to focus on both experience and education on their resumes; in the future, resumes will either fade away or candidates will learn to include their scores on prior EQ tests.

Improved Job Performance and Productivity

Improved job performance and productivity are now commonplace for companies that require EQ employee and candidate testing. For example, since the US Air Force started EQ testing, their recruiters and the selected recruiters increased their ability in selecting the best performers by three fold, which resulted in saving $3 million annually.

Also, a multinational consulting firm assessed their partners and found that those who scored above the median delivered $1.2 million more in profit from their accounts, which was a 139 percent incremental gain.

Likewise, a national insurance company found that their weak emotional intelligence employees sold less than one-half as many premiums as their strong EQ employees.

Researchers in the Center for Creative Leadership discovered that deficits in Executive emotional competence, mainly, change management, team work, and interpersonal relations were the primary causes of personal and company failures.

Obviously, EQ helps companies and employees improve performance, productivity, sales, customer service and other areas which result in increased success as both a company and human being. What does EQ hold for the future, especially the younger generation of Millennials?


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Millennials have vastly different opinions about every aspect of work, how we work, how we manage, and why we work the way we do. They have been branded as narcissists, impatient and very ambitious, disloyal to their employers, value work-life balance, prefer electronic communications to verbal communications, expect to move quickly up their career ladders and have little regard for ”corporate responsibility.”

Millennials are in greater numbers than the Baby Boomer generation, who now look forward to retirement. By 2020, more than 50% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials, who will be expected to work longer as life expectancy increases.

This group generally knows no loyalty to their employers and companies who are currently hiring them and have immense challenges in retaining them. Bottom-line is, we need Millennials. They grew up with technology and better understand technology than employees who have had to adapt to it. Since we are now a technology-based world, we need their skills.

Millennials have the skills we need, but their behavior is very different than what we are accustomed to working with. They freely place a high emphasis on their personal needs, are uncomfortable with our typically inflexible corporate structures. Expecting to quickly move up in their current jobs or they will move on to what they believe is a better “deal”, dislike information silos, want varied and interesting-to-themselves careers that include constant feedback and encouragement. Millennials also expect flexible work and want to know that their work is worthwhile, while their efforts are being recognized. Basically, they want a different management style and corporate culture than what most companies now have.

Fortunately, there are many positive aspects to consider. Millennials have similar values in some work related situations, such as a need to be committed to a position and a manager who helps them develop their careers. This is a common need for most employees, but this group places greater emphasis on opportunities to both learn and advance and they clearly expect their employers to help with this learning, growing and developing their careers. Also, Millennials need money, like the rest of us. They typically have high levels of student loans and are concerned about the current slow growth of salaries, which may help explain why they job-hop into positions with less than 20% salary increases.

Luckily for companies and their leaders, Millennials share commonalities of job needs and expectations with older generations, but disparities exist and these disparities must be updated and improved in order to attract and retain Millennials.

Encourage your Millennials

For instance, work-life balance is very important to 95% of U.S. Millennials, who were surveyed by Price Waterhouse Coopers. Even worse, one-third of the survey participants believe that work-life balance at their current company is much worse than their expectations. One option is to reward employees, whenever possible, on their results rather than the hours worked and permit employees to decide when and where they do their work. Currently, few companies actually measure productivity when long hours are standard and encouraged by management. Productivity could in-reality, increase if employees are allowed to make decisions on time and place of work.

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Millennials love their technology and over one-half, state that they are greatly influenced by companies who provide state-of-the-art technology to their employees.  So, why not provide a choice of smartphones as a work benefit and encourage social media as a work tool. This group expects a workplace that includes all the perks they received at home or school: social networking, instant messaging, video-on-demand, blogs, and wikis. If they have this at work, they are likely to be more productive since they are accustomed to always having it available.

Millennials are ambitious and optimistic in their abilities to be successful and they need and expect both good wages and career progression opportunities. Interestingly, they value training and development and flexible working opportunities over financial benefits. Many millennials respond well to mentoring by older employees, ideally their manager as a coach, but they also want to learn by doing instead of being told what to do. It’s critical to this group that they receive praise and regular feedback for a job well done. The companies that understand this importance are much more likely to attract millennials.

Clearly, Millennials have high levels of Emotional Intelligence, at least in most areas, such as empathy, motivation and socialization and this alone will greatly benefit their employers.

For example, Millennials enjoy helping others. Companies have prided themselves for years on helping those who need help or cannot help themselves; Millennials can make this a true reality in a couple of heartbeats if we, as company leaders, allow them to do so.

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Diversity is welcomed by Millennials who see it as an opportunity to enrich their knowledge of others. Most companies have struggled for years to implement true diversity. Allowing this group to implement programs that they intuitively know are needed will help companies and prove to their Millennials that they value their work and passion for this subject.

Millennials need their leaders to be authentic human beings that they can personally relate to. Perhaps it’s time for Millennials to help train their managers to be more authentic, more caring towards others, implement true diversity, and of course, teach them to use today’s technology.

Approximately one-half of millennials in the US are now in leadership roles. Because millennials are both idealistic and practical, embrace change and believe change should be constant and routine. They are more likely to overcome the challenges of our divided nation and create a pathway to address both the US and the world’s challenges. As they implement change in the areas they believe are critical, our country might just become a country we are proud of and enjoy. How could that be anything but positive?

 About the Author

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Pierce Ivory is the Marketing Director for Advance Systems, a leading provider of cloud-based workforce management systems for enterprise and mid-sized organizations based out of Boston, MA.