· Features

Building emotional skills for the future world of work

It’s clear that the application of emotional intelligence (EI) can provide significant benefit to industry.

By measuring and developing EI in the workplace, we can see improvements in areas such as employee selection, predictive indicators of ability, management capability, staff morale and turnover, communications and performance...the list of benefits goes on.

If these skills are so potent, why do we wait so long before introducing people to the benefits of EI?

Dr Richard Kadison, chief of mental health at Harvard University, says: "It is clear that academic success goes hand in hand with emotional and physical well-being. Even students who 'get by' or succeed academically can be at risk if unhealthy behavioural patterns follow them after college. Promoting emotional health in students is an investment in the future. It should be part of the mission of all colleges and universities."

We go still further. At The Attitude Academy, we prove that introducing students as young as 13 to the principles of EI can have an significant impact on behaviour and academic performance, and the benefits only increase as the students mature towards school leaving age. Dr Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania found that scores on a test of optimism in 500 UPENN freshmen were a better predictor of actual grades during their first year than SAT scores or high school grades.

In conjunction with RocheMartin, host of the 2012 Leadership & Emotional Intelligence Summit  in London on March 9th - where HR Magazine is the official media partner - and Dr Martyn Newman, one of the world's acknowledged experts in EI, we're developing a special version of the acclaimed Emotional Capital Report (ECR). Normally used to assess and develop EI for executives and business leaders, the ECR will be re-purposed specifically for 13-18 year- olds. This will enable us to assess each individual's emotional intelligence and subsequently to provide tailored attitude and motivational coaching aimed at improving every pupil's life and their opportunities as they move through school and into further education or the workforce.

Clearly, young people cannot deal with all the complexities of EI in the same way as adults in the workplace, but there is no doubt that by measuring and developing key emotional elements such as self-awareness, empathy, adaptability, relationship skills and optimism (none of which you will find on the curriculum of most schools today!) we can not only improve our predictions around which students will succeed and which may need more support; we can actually improve academic results and, even more importantly, prepare our young people better for higher education or the workplace.

But how can our already overstretched education system cope with implementing so-called 'soft' skills learning? Indeed, many reports give us the impression that it's the teachers that need better leadership and communication skills; perhaps we should address these issues first. At the Leadership & EQ Summit we will demonstrate how new technologies can bring EI principles into the educational environment in a way that not only benefits students, teachers and parents; but also businesses. Bringing emotional skills to the next generation of employees is critical for the future world of work

Andrew Humphries is an adviser to the UK Government's trade & investment, global entrepreneur programme and a presenter at 2012 Leadership & Emotional Intelligence Summit in London on 9 March 2012.