HR Recruitment: Could Dip in HR’s Emotional Intelligence Signal a Need For Recruitment Change?


The HR department is an integral part of any business or company employing multiple staff and it often falls to this department to keep workers happy and morale high. However, since 2012, the emotional intelligence of HR industry workers has been said to have decreased considerably, dropping from second to seventh place in an multi-industry study. We discuss why this is, and how HR recruitment must be stepped up in order to change the rate of EI in HR.

Industry Uncertainty

The new trend for decreasing emotional intelligence among HR staff can be attributed to a range of aspects since 2012. Back then, the HR industry was second on the list regarding emotional intelligence, however it appears as though a changing economy has led to uncertainty, which has left employees suffering from a lack of morale and high levels of disengagement. This could be from a range of influences, both internal and external, that have changed the way those in the industry are working. Whether it be structural changes within a company hierarchy, reductions in staff due to the economic downturn or simply a lack of specific resilience programmes to help workers cope with change, there are many aspects which have led to this trend.

But why is it so worrying? HR departments are often seen as one of the core areas of business, responsible for the maintenance and motivation of staff. Business psychologist JCA Global’s study into the EI of many industries revealed that previously high levels of self-confidence, emotional resilience, assertiveness and goal direction have waned as changes in the business world have been harder to cope with within HR than other industries in the study.

Consequences of Low EI Within Human Resources

Low emotional intelligence can damage a company in any department, but within HR it can have a ripple effect on the whole business. Although many believe EI to be an integral part of achieving optimal organisational performance, it has yet to be included in the majority of development strategies, with just 30% of companies implementing it. says of the figures, “These statistics demonstrate that HR mangers do not exert sufficient organisation influence on decisions in HR related matters”. A lower EI can contribute to a lack of interpersonal and soft skills, negatively affecting the productivity and performance of a department which relies so heavily on these attributes.

Managers and MDs who are noticing a reduction in the skill set and confidence of their HR employees can take steps to improve their morale by looking at stress reduction and personal resilience, taking note of the issues and working towards a positive solution. Additionally, exercise, healthy eating and reductions in caffeine and sugar are just a few things that can improve physical well-being and also significantly influence emotional well-being.

Improving HR Recruitment

Whilst this trend is hopefully one that will improve in time, it is important to keep it in mind when recruiting for an HR position. Recruiters and employers should look for aspects during the application process that can indicate a candidate’s emotional intelligence. This could be seen through experience within a similar role demonstrating a knowledge of the stressful situations that can be encountered in an average HR department. Soft skills too such as communication, self-confidence and resistance to change can be ascertained through careful interview questions; ask for examples when challenges have arisen and how those challenges were faced by the candidate.

HR recruitment can be more effective when taking such trends into consideration. Explaining both the soft skills and specific needs of the business and demonstrating the importance of not just industry and HR knowledge, but also knowledge of oneself and the ability to withstand change and uncertainty could result in increased performance. There are many candidates who will search for HR jobs specific to their skill set which is a great help to recruiters, however recruiters and employers must be sure to do their best to attract such talent too.