Prof. Rasal Singh

The pandemic enclosed many people in their homes, preventing them from interacting with others and getting exposure to each other. Although initially welcomed, it soon became problematic. People have adjusted to this ‘New Normal’ as a result of the pandemic. As restrictions eased, offices began reopening, transitioning people into their later years with increased caution. Since so many people work or socialize virtually for so long, it’s common for them to feel the need to brush up on social skills. Despite this, the pandemic continues to cause trepidation and lingering effects, such as burnout.

Burnout can be seen in any walk of life, including personal lives as well. The frequency of burnout can be an example of a person’s psychological health and relationships with others. However, the most commonly seen example of burnout is ‘Job Burnout’.

Mental health was rarely discussed earlier but it’s no longer a stigma. Two noteworthy examples are international tennis star Naomi Osaka and olympian gymnast Simone Biles dropping out of tournaments and bringing mental wellbeing to the forefront. Coping with everything that happened since March 2020 was a lot and most people are still healing while moving forward.

Psychology is an underrated science. It may not have a scientific proof for its finding but studying the relationships of the brain with the body and the surrounding is incomplete without taking it into consideration. A work-life balance is not easy to maintain, but an imperative skill as health depends on it. Self-awareness of stress is the first counterproductive step towards burnout. Emotional Intelligence is seen as an effective way of dealing with burnout but is there any further link between its psychology and work-related stress or burnout?

Emotional intelligence can be defined as the realization of one’s emotions in different situations and the factors affecting these emotions and using it as an advantage. The social development index of an individual account for emotional health and well-being. This can be achieved via Emotional Intelligence. Research findings have shown that Emotional Intelligence has a direct impact on Burnout resulting from jobs.

From the findings of numerous researches, one may conclude that EQ is more important than IQ in today’s times. Nowadays greater importance is being given to the social and emotional aspect of everything which includes workspace as well. Hence, it becomes essential to give importance to the Emotional Quotient as equally as Intelligence Quotient.

There are five key elements of Emotional Intelligence. In order to deal with burnout and stress effectively, one must try to master these elements. These include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Improvising on these key elements helps to develop Emotional Intelligence Skills.

Self-awareness and self-regulation together empower an individual. These elements allow an individual to know their strengths and weaknesses. They improvise their emotional outburst and help them to act rationally in emotionally challenging situations. Decision-making is greatly affected by the emotional aspect of individuals. A person may become weak due to increased emotions or not understand others’ emotions when s/he should. Hence, self-regulation is very crucial for reasonable and rational decision-making.

Motivation is essential to keep the spirits high in low-key times. Motivation has an essentially encouraging impact on work progress and dedication. It is seen that motivated people are more efficient than pessimists. Empathy and social skills are considered one of the survival instincts. They may not affect survival directly but it is evident that excellent social skills make survival easy in a competitive work environment and achieve success.

Emotional intelligence (EI) skills include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. These abilities benefit as individuals maneuver their personal and professional lives. For example, collaboration falls under relationship management; this skill is crucial for working with others. It may seem easy to assume the worst, however, tapping into EI allows one to take a moment to assess the facts and identify the rationale: what’s in control versus what is not. Individuals have started appreciating the EI skills, not just those in leadership positions.

There is a strong need and demand to develop and continuously strengthen EI skills throughout lives and careers. As companies increase hiring and offices welcome employees back, it’s imperative to be aware of workplace stress and how using EI helps to keep burnout at bay.

Many researches have shown that EI has a positive impact on the job performances of individuals. It is found that in an organization where employees have greater EQ, the performance is better. This is speculated to the satisfaction of the employees with their work which helps them to develop better social support systems and also improve their personal life. It can be concluded that EI improves the competitive advantage of an individual.

Emotional intelligence skills help to contemplate stress in the world of work. Individuals are inherently exercising the EI skills all the time without realizing it. Adapting to changing environments falls under self-management, according to Harvard Business Review. Empathetic and compassionate workplace culture is vital to support employees. If workers feel comfortable asking for help or direction, it creates a healthier environment where everyone participates and thrives, positively impacting the company’s growth. Propagation of a positive culture should be a collective effort from everyone at a company regardless of seniority or tenure.

To achieve this, regular awareness and training session by qualified psychologists and counsellors can be done. The employees should be motivated and their small achievement should be met with appraisal. The employer must try to look on the positive of the situation and even in tough times support the employees and regularly appreciate them.

We all are on our own journeys and susceptible to stress. Each one of us has the power to douse the flames of burnout before they spark, but for that to happen channelizing the EQ as part of self-exploration to identify a source and course of action is quintessential. Everyone should be encouraged to identify their EI skill level and continue strengthening those abilities. At times, stress in personal and professional lives is inevitable, but with EI, people can manage it or ask for help. As told, thriving is the antidote to burnout.

(The author is Dean, Students’ Welfare, Central University of Jammu.)