AI, automation boost demand for emotional intelligence skills

As new technologies automate more traditional and routine tasks, executives and employees recognize that emotional intelligence (EI) skills – such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management – will be a key requisite for success in the years to come.

While demand for EI skills is set to increase by six times in the next 3-5 years, recruitment and training in this area has mostly failed to adapt. This is set to leave many companies unable to reap the benefits EI offers in terms of employee satisfaction, revenue generation, lower attrition and cost reductions. The “Emotional intelligence – the essential skillset for the age of AI” report from the Capgemini Research Institute provides a global look at how companies view EI and recommends that they combine technology with talent to develop relevant skills among their employees.

Key findings from the study include:

Emotional intelligence becoming a must-have skill
As more traditional and routine tasks become automated, organizations are placing a premium on EI skills, from self-awareness to relationship management and communication. Executives said employees need to develop EI skills so they can adapt to more client/person-facing roles (76%) and take on tasks requiring EI skills that cannot be automated (also 76%) such as empathy, influence and teamwork.

Sixty-one percent of executives surveyed said emotional intelligence will become a “must-have” skill in the next 1 – 5 years, and 41% of employees in non-supervisory roles echo the sentiment. Overall, 83% of organizations said that a highly emotionally intelligent workforce will be a prerequisite for success in the years to come.

Worries about the impact of automation and AI
The share of employees who believe that their skills are or will become redundant due to automation and AI has increased by 10 percentage points in two years. Overall, the percentage of employees who believe their skills are or will be redundant in the next two to three years has increased from 30% to 39%.

In addition, the share of millennials who feel this has increased from 40% to 50%. Evidently, millennials are aware of the impact of automation and AI and are getting more anxious because they realize that they will absorb the maximum impact of automation.

Emotionally intelligent workforce benefiting organizations

Organizations that do have employees with high emotional intelligence are realizing significant benefits. On average, 60% of the surveyed organizations realized more than 20% benefits by having employees who display high EI. The top quantitative benefits include enhanced productivity, higher employee satisfaction, and increased market share.

The research calculated that organizations making a sustained investment in EI will see between a 2.2x and 4.4x return-on-investment when the impact on revenue, productivity, costs and attrition are taken into account.

Far fewer providing relevant training
While 75% of organizations said they can develop EI skills in their employees, far fewer are providing relevant training to help achieve that goal. Just 42% of organizations provide training for senior management and leadership, falling to 32% for middle management and just 17% for employees in non-supervisory roles. Despite employees in non-supervisory roles being the most likely to be impacted by automation, less than 40% of organizations test for EI skills while hiring or assess these skills in their existing employees in non-supervisory roles.

The research concludes that companies need to embed EI into their various people practices and take both bottom-up and top-down approaches to build a high EI workforce through modifications to existing processes. Organizations will also need to create a culture that values EI and strives for continuous improvement.

It highlights four key areas on which organizations should focus to build a more emotionally intelligent workforce:
•Customize existing learning programs to integrate EI and make them accessible to all
•Modify recruitment processes to include the evaluation of EI
•Apply an EI lens when promoting and rewarding talent
•Use technology and data for building a high EI culture

“Companies are increasingly aware of the need for emotional intelligence skills but are not moving quickly enough to invest in them,” said Claudia Crummenerl, Global Practice Lead, People and Organization at Capgemini Invent. “This new research shows both the necessity for EI as routine tasks become automated, and also the benefits companies can gain through having an emotionally intelligent workforce. The experience of the most successful companies in this space shows that organizations must prioritize EI in recruitment, training and culture to build a resilient team in a changing world.”

The report is available here.

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