For over a year, the threat of Covid-19 and its restrictions have become a pervasive and perpetual stressor in many people’s lives. Yes, we’ve become accustomed to enduring new challenges, but the prolonged nature of such adversity can take a toll. Employees have adapted to new ways of working, shown great flexibility, often embraced new technology, and juggled multiple demands to continue their commitments to their jobs. Working patterns have changed, additional safety measures have had to be implemented, front-line workers have had to work long hours to provide essential services – all against a backdrop of ever-changing personal restrictions and sometimes without the usual support networks to fall back on.
It’s time for organizations and managers to re-engage and re-energize people by providing a clear and inspiring vision, creating a positive climate, and ensuring the well-being and safety of their workforce–all features of an emotionally intelligent employer.
How to cultivate an emotionally intelligent environment
There are several steps leaders and organizations can take to cultivate an emotionally intelligent environment to improve morale and productivity and reduce burnout:
- Inspire from the top down. Leaders should regularly ask themselves two key questions: “how does it feel to work around here?” and “how does it feel to be led by you?” And be honest with your answers!
- Maintain employee support systems. Identifying and developing EI is a process during which sustainability is key. Investing in employees’ well-being and personal development right now is essential to making positive changes in the long term. Here are a few easy ways to set the tone in your organization:
- Encourage time for renewing and re-energizing every day: The more often employees can check in with their emotions and spend a few minutes re-energizing, the more effectively they will cope with daily challenges.
- And, foster this renewing time as productive time: People often consider “time-off” as being unproductive and wasteful, which may create feelings of stress and guilt. However, neuroscience tells us that time renewing helps quiet the “noise” in our brain, which helps us to hear the quieter intuitive signals that give us insight, help us resolve problems, and improve creativity. Set this tone from the top down.
- Notice early signs of stress: An unfortunate side effect of stress is we become less aware of our feelings. The reason we move into the “burnout zone” is that we haven’t noticed and addressed feelings of stress sooner. To counter this, we can start by recognizing our feelings of stress early and identifying what triggers these feelings. If it’s certain types of projects, then balance out projects that create stress with those projects that make you feel effective.
- Engage in employees’ potential. Taking a deeper dive into the potential of your employees can better equip leaders to manage themselves while getting the best out of others based on three building blocks for growth: performance, engagement, and well-being.