The growing importance of emotional first responders

We've all heard of first responders – those what are first on the scene of an accident, natural disaster or other emergency. Fewer have heard of an emotional first responder (EFR), but in today's high-stress, always connected, on-demand workplace, this role is becoming increasingly important.

Let's take a look at the who, what and why of designating one or more emotional first responders in your organization.

Why you need an EFR

Every office can be fertile ground for an intense variety of emotions. Anger, fear, frustration, sadness, jealously, anxiety – these are all common feelings at work. Whether these feelings are brought on by happenings inside or outside the office, they are real and can wreak havoc on company culture, engagement and productivity.

Loneliness is another area to which organizational psychologists are increasingly paying attention. Research published by the Harvard Business Review found that professionals in certain industries – including legal, engineering and science – are at greater risk of feeling lonely. Lonely workers are less satisfied with their jobs and have higher rates of turnover, not to mention the personal health impacts of loneliness and limited emotional support.

What an EFR does

Emotional first responders are employees who exhibit greater emotional intelligence in the workplace. They respond to the holistic health needs of employees in ways that value both physical and mental wellness. They look out for employees' emotions, with the goal of supporting a healthy, happy workplace.

EFRs monitor and report on the emotional well-being of employees. They notice when employees are stressed, overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated, then convey that information to management along with helpful suggestions and strategies for addressing these emotions and easing concerns. EFRs are also valuable resources for employees – they make themselves available to actively listen to their concerns and talk through the feelings they're having.

EFRs can be HR professionals or other individuals designated by your company. What is most important is that EFRs possess great empathy, compassion and communication skills.

In addition to establishing an EFR, companies can explore other ways to better understand and be sensitive to emotions in the workplace. Workers at Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, for example, press one of five emotion buttons in the office lobby that indicate how they feel.

healthEFRs can help businesses create better mental health environments for employees.

The benefits of having an EFR

For decades, the focus on what makes a good workplace has been based on tangible and measurable KPIs such as a strong revenue, productive employees and substantial market share. But as the push to create a better work-life balance for employees gains momentum, helped by the rise of remote working arrangements, HR professionals and business experts are beginning to explore ways in which they can better support and nurture healthy emotional lives of their employees.

The ultimate result of better mental health within an organization is a greater ability to achieve those KPIs necessary for a business to succeed. In an article on HRZone, Pete Schrock, chief people officer at Legacy Navigator, an estate clean-out and settlement services firm, said that a greater focus on emotions in the workplace, through help from an EFR, can lead to greater employee wellness, job satisfaction, retention and productivity.

Identifying and implementing emotional first responders in your organization doesn't require significant time or effort and the impact can be incredibly positive and far-reaching. So why not give it a try?

TIP: Adopting HR technology can help alleviate administrative burdens and free up time to operate improved emotional intelligence initiatives at your organization. Learn more about PeopleStrategy end-to-end human capital management solution, PeopleStrategy eHCM, here, or schedule a demo today!