On face value, the coronavirus pandemic freed up the commute, meeting and travelling time for working professionals. But in reality, it actually stretched them thin with regards to an increased workload, the melding of personal and professional time and the stress of working efficiently from a home setup. Those of us used to working digitally had to make amendments from time to time as schedules evolved, while some of us had to start from scratch by enabling digital access.
The lack of exposure to other people, nature, organic conversations and happenstance, combined with being locked in at home and an uncertain atmosphere created a high level of anxiety, stress, depression and fear among workers. Even under the best of circumstances, repeated exposure to this climate can cause even top performers to worry about their career growth, trajectory, job stability, and salary cuts etc. In the face of such adversity, even logical, rational-minded people can struggle to keep up with the high fluctuation rate around them.
Since most global companies and their employees were thrown into this situation at the same time, companies got the opportunity to become more cognizant of their employees’ circumstances. Everyone’s situation was unique as someone had elderly parents, while others a newborn, some were stranded away from home, while others were living alone. Its true kindness and awareness can definitely go a long way in keeping employee morale high, but there is another way that looks at a person holistically, and helps them develop all-round acuity, no matter how stressful the situation. Now, as we slowly inch towards recovery from the pandemic, companies are well placed to take cue and adapt these practices for employee resilience.
Emotional Intelligence: The need of the hour
Composed of four attributes, emotional intelligence is the ability for people to identify their emotions, as well as those of others, differentiate between them correctly and use them as a guide to thought and behaviour. How can emotional literacy - the awareness to recognise and respond to other people’s emotions - be useful at a workplace?
- With self-management, an employee is in control of impulsive feelings and behaviours, managing them in healthy ways. They can identify the current scenario and its impact at an individual level, and compose themselves accordingly.
- With self-awareness, they can determine their emotions, strengths and weaknesses and their effect on their thoughts and behaviors. They can identify challenges and come up with plausible solutions for any problems.
- With social awareness, employees can understand the emotions and emotional cues of other people. This gives them an empathetic edge in planning and helping team members navigate through changes. They can also better execute the corporate strategy with clear, positive and lasting leadership.
- With relationship management, employees can develop and maintain lasting trust-based relationships based on respect and consideration, along with good communication skills.
No matter how testing the times get, the age-old philosophy of never stop inventing or reinventing oneself holds true especially in the current climate. We are driven to think that emotional intelligence teaches employees how to manage stress as it arises, thereby offsetting its negative health and social impact. By preserving one's calm and cool, it also aids in a positive outlook towards one’s peers, while encouraging stronger personal and professional relationships.
Companies who adopt flexible work approaches along with emotional intelligence are likely to both recover and succeed from any tremors from the last year. In the end, leaders who communicate clearly and efficiently will drive the message that no matter how overwhelming things get, it is completely possible to recalibrate one’s compass and keep on marching forward!