Realizing the Value of Emotional Intelligence During COVID-19

Realizing the Value of Emotional Intelligence During COVID-19

By: Colleen Richter | Employee Relations Manager

Working in Human Resources (HR) for over 15 years, I have learned a lot about emotional intelligence and emotional commitment and the effect they have on employees. What is the difference between emotional intelligence and emotional commitment, and why are they so crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic? According to Psychology Today, the definition of emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the feelings of others. Emotional intelligence is critical in the workforce because it reduces conflict in the workplace and creates a stable environment.

The commitment an employee has to a company and their goals is referred to as emotional commitment is often measured by employee engagement. Emotional commitment means an employee doesn’t just work for a paycheck or a promotion but cares about their work and meeting the goals of the company. This commitment and value of work produced by the employees contribute to the organization’s success.

Why emotional intelligence crucial during COVID-19

Whether your employees are working remotely or are coming in during the pandemic, they are dealing with a lot. There are changes at work, and at home, they or someone close to them could have or had COVID-19, and it can be a lot for an individual to handle. So how can your HR team ensure emotional commitment to their job during this pandemic? Listen to employee concerns, find the tools and services, and tools to help them navigate through these uncertain times and use your network to ease the pressure. Going above and beyond, if you sense an employee’s needs, it can make all the difference in the world.

I want to share a quick story on going the extra mile for an employee that was diagnosed with COVID-19 and admitted to ICU. Her story is not unique; in fact, thousands of people around the world share her story. It was early April, midafternoon, when her symptoms became so unbearable, she drove herself to the VA hospital, where she tested positive for COVID-19. Alone with no family. The Doctor called to inform her family of her diagnosis and the process for care. The family was given instructions on specific times they could contact the hospital for a “check-in” on her progress, if she were to be placed on a ventilator, the family would receive a daily call from the nurses with an update. But under no circumstances were they allowed to visit. After eight days in the hospital, she was well enough to go home with a walker and oxygen. Once home, tired, confused, and faced with having to apply for unemployment, she turned to our Human Resource Team for help.

Less is more, except when it comes to your employees

Our employee reached out because she was having difficulties applying for her unemployment benefits, her social security number was already in “use,” the unemployment system would not accept her credentials, sounds like a personal issue, right? The simple answer is yes, but this is where empathy and EI come into play with your HR team. We immediately jumped into action to help her. After seven long days of calling the unemployment line, sending numerous emails with no response, our team reached out on social media for help. The overwhelming response to help our employee indicated that empathy for those in need goes beyond what we could have imagined.

Tips for cutting through red tape and going the extra mile

Here are some simple steps you and your team can do to help your employees with the daunting task of applying for unemployment.

  • Prepare a furlough/layoff letter for each employee Execute a waiver of the alternative employment seeking duties which would typically apply as a pre-condition to you receiving benefits
  • Provide a helpful tips sheet for applying online, include your company EAN and EINs
  • Know when it’s time to ask for help – solicit from your HR connections, they may have a different avenue to take

These tips helped our employee get through the red tape, it was a learning lesson for our HR team, and we were able to help an individual who truly needed help.

Emotional intelligence is more than understanding your own personal “emotional” needs and habits; it is the ability to have empathy for those around you. When you can sense that an employee is struggling, it will influence you to respond with care and action. More times than not, I have witnessed many Human Resource Teams “point” in the direction the employee needs to go instead of actively participating in resolving their needs. I am not talking about handholding; I am talking about walking with the employee and going the extra mile to help them when they need it. So remember a few additional minutes spent with an employee when they are in need can make all of the difference in the world.


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